originally written by Jim Brandon
There comes a point where similarity becomes an almost impossible distraction to ignore. I’ve listened to Paradogma more times than I can count, and every single time the damn thing has caved my skull in. Hour Of Penance has crafted an album that spares no expense when it comes to accumulating a formidable and potent arsenal of riff weaponry, and for the most part has done a decent job of creating an often explosive and compelling blastfest. But there’s an issue that isn’t floating in the back of my mind, it’s flashing neon directly in my line of sight, and I wish more than anything that I could turn my blinders to it, so maybe you can succeed where I’ve failed.
With this, their fourth full-length, Hour Of Penance make it abundantly clear just how well they’ve mastered the art of murder by blunt death metal force. The production has been tweaked in order to provide an even thicker, clearer, and more expansive guitar tone, and this added heft serves capably to make matters all the more crushing. If you’re in the mood for bent and squealy notes, tons of chunky staccato riffs injected with tremolo flourishes that come and go with searing speed, and dry, somewhat coherently growled mid-range vocals, positively gutting tunes such as “Thousands Of Christs”, “Caged Into Falsehood”, “Incestuous Dynasty of Worms”, and industrially-tinged closer “Apotheosis” will satisfy your cravings for a serious sonic beat down. “Caged Into Falsehood” is nothing but relentless blasts wrapped in a tight coil of sharp, precise riffs that take a few moments to unwind in a much-appreciated groovy breakdown, and the spacious, echoing soloing that ends the tune is executed flawlessly.
But going through this with a fine-tooth comb doesn’t reveal my problem because, aesthetically, I find this all to be entirely pleasing from the first note to the last, and flat-out badass (“…Worms”) a lot of the time. If you’re any fan of Decapitated, Behemoth, Morbid Angel, or Mithras, you need look no further than Paradogma to hear this Italian band administering an ideally-timed (between three to four minutes per tune, give or take a sec’ or seven) lesson in killer death metal, written with vision and ability. But I can also hear how much of their vision this isn’t, and unless you absolutely adore the bands I’ve mentioned, you will have very little use for this, because if someone had told me this was a compilation of Behemoth outtakes from The Apostasy and Evangelion, I’d have no reason to doubt them. It’s very distracting upon the first ten listens or so, and I’m really not meaning to take an unfair jab at their songwriting capabilities because at the end of the day, the lineup that performed on this release really tore shit up. But it’s hard to get past how incredibly derivative this sounds when placed next to the last three Behemoth albums, almost to the point where it felt like reviewing Evangelion all over again.
So where do I go with this? With so many familiar, yet purely rampaging riffs to sort through and dissect, Paradogma will keep you busy for a little while, and will make for miserable listening for your loved ones who would rather avoid this sort of thing. I still think there are ways to execute this style without showing your influences so brazenly, even if they’ve been there from the start. Given the level of quality, I wish there had been a certain level of fresh originality to go along with it, because there are some truly ripping tracks on here, and if you’ve been a fan since day one, then I’m sure you will happily destroy your eardrums with this balls-to-the-wall, 37-minute wallop of unholy, crystal-clear terror. Don’t let my petty bitching get in the way of contributing to your pursuit of hearing loss with this freight train of a disc, just don’t be surprised by how much of it sounds so similar to what you may already own.