Hour of Penance: Sedition

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Hour of Penance: Sedition
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Hour of Penance: Sedition
Technical Brutal Death Metal
Prosthetic Records
April 17th, 2012
Release length: 32:15
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Italian based Technical Brutal Death Metal act Hour of Penance has existed since all the way back in 1999, but chances are good you may not have heard of this group yet. They were first signed to Xtreem Music, who issued their first two full-lengths, and then with Unique Leader Records for their next two. For 2012, the band unleashes their fifth full-length effort, Sedition through Prosthetic Records. With this stronger label offering up more listeners thanks to a broader reach, does the band deliver a strong impression on the potential new fans, as well as those who have been around since their birth?

One thing you can largely count on with Prosthetic Records releases is that the quality is usually top notch. Here, we find that stereotype proving to be true once more. Sedition sounds like a power hungry beast. The guitars have a rather blunt edge with a bit of a mid-range pitch to them, coming off very rich and crushing, especially with the additional bass that is just as loud, but far deeper in tone. The drums pound away with a lower tightness to the snares and a click on the bass kick that is similar in volume, the two working together perfectly to punish the listener while the cymbals are at just the right level to nicely fill the music with each one as crisp as the last. The vocals could have been a little louder, as the music is podded up just enough to be crippling despite what the dial on the speaker says. This unfortunately does drown them out a bit, but the gutteral performance is still captured well with additional layered and echoed moments where needed, and just loud enough that you can understand exactly what is being growled, making this a case of the bite being far worse than the bark, which is perfectly fine.

This all leads to a simply crushing and hopeless atmosphere as well, though the introduction doesn’t quite capture it well enough. “Transubstantiatio” slowly fades in with echoing drums that sound like distant explosions, and some harmonized choir vocals in the background amid other disturbances and noises that grow richer as “Englightened Submission” opens the floodgates with an introduction best suited to a Black Metal/Death Metal offering like Behemoth. This is littered with machine-gun blast beats and some chugging and commanding guitar work amid some subtle Middle Eastern leads, an atmosphere that can be felt throughout much of the release. There are enough shifts in the material that offer more than grinding brutality, providing plenty of unique passages to keep the listener happy, as well as a short-but-sweet guitar solo that fits the environment perfectly. But, for as brutal as this experience is, it’s not even one of the best that Hour of Penance has in store for the listener.

“Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God” surpasses it with a far more brutalising and richer experience. The energetic performances are still the same, but the blast beats are greatly limited here, relying more on the technical aspect, but when they are incorporated it’s one of the most bludgeoning experiences you can have. On top of that, you also get rather intricate guitar work, as well as plenty of solos that usher in an epic extremity which only continues to build until the four minute mark when things close out similar to how they started, leaving you completely satisfied. “The Cannibal Gods” is another that perfectly molds together the technical bludgeoning and haunting atmospheres. This track utilizes more blasting, but does find some eerie lead riffs here and there at work. While not quite as dynamic or over-the-top as others, those passages really tug at the listener’s emotions, especially when the ringing bell effects come into play. It’s a solid Death Metal offering that sounds far more grounded, but it only adds more force as the hammer Hour of Penance swings at your skull. There’s also “Ascension,” which stands out thanks to the gang chanting that is best represented as ritualistic during the slower chorus. The music there is crushing and transitioned into nicely after a faster Death Metal assault that is a little more traditional Brutal Death Metal than anything, producing an environment that is simply staggering.

Those are not even all of the highlights to this album, and if this were to cover them all it would be a simple track by track review. Sedition is a sadistic Death Metal assault on the listener, and one that is going to be really hard to top. The production is perfect aside the vocals being just a little too low, and even that fault can easily be overlooked. Each song on here is just fantastic, making a memorable impression on the listener and his neck muscles as you bang your head obediently to everything this recording has to offer. It’s rare you get a technical album that doesn’t tread into the territory of just showing off, but all the tighter and more intricate moments feel natural to the material and not just to say “Hey, look! We can play this and you probably can’t@” If you’ve never heard Hour of Penance before, then now is definitely the time to make yourself aware of their existence. With an album that any self-respecting fan of Death Metal should run out and own right now, and will be proud to have in their collection, the band shows they have what it takes to put some of the leaders that you might cite as influence in this album’s sound, such as Behemoth and Nile, on notice and in their place.

01. Transubstatiatio – 1:01
02. Enlightened Submission – 3:44
03. Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God – 4:57
04. Fall of the Servants – 3:25
05. Ascension – 4:11
06. The Cannibal Gods – 4:02
07. Sedition Through Scorn – 3:32
08. Deprave to Redeem – 4:09
09. Blind Obedience – 3:14
Overall Score: 10/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Prosthetic Records.