Hypocrisy

Virus

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Although Hypocrisy's career has continually had to contend with leader Peter Tägtgren's parallel success as one of Scandinavia's busiest producers, his workaholic ways have generally guaranteed regular touring opportunities, and albums both solid in content and frequent of release. Sure enough, 2005's Virus is Hypocrisy's tenth full studio effort in just over a decade (with several EPs and live/greatest-hits sets snuck in between), and longtime followers will likely be relieved to discover that it doesn't explore tangential metal styles of temporary popularity, as did occasional previous efforts such as 2002's nu-metal-leaning Catch 22. Instead, new songs like "Warpath," "Scrutinized," and "Compulsive Psychosis" generally apply the melodic sensibility and arranging simplicity of the '90s Gothenburg scene to the harsher, thrashier rhythmic attack common to the more extreme sounds that preceded (and followed) it, forging an amalgam of death metal-based subgenres representative of Tägtgren's wide versatility both in front of and behind the studio's plate-glass window. Of course, by the same token, one could also accuse it of being vague in its direction, but as long as the majority of these songs stand up to scrutiny when it comes to compelling and memorable songwriting -- which they do -- who cares? Weak links do crop up, and generally via slower, rather aimless numbers like "Fearless" and the regretfully nu-metal-revisiting (not again!) "Living to Die"; but, conversely, the similarly mid-paced "A Thousand Lies" delivers one of the album's highlights simply by offering better core ingredients (distinctive melodies and tension-building riffs) with which to bake the very same recipe. Elsewhere, the oddly named "Incised Before I've Ceased" manages to combine clean and grunted vocals, pummeling rhythms, and threatening melodies to great effect, while "Let the Knife Do the Talking" will probably polarize fans into radical love/hate camps with its turgid Pantera grinds and anthemic chorus. All things considered, though, Virus qualifies as Hypocrisy's strongest outing in some time, showcasing a consistent assortment of both old-school and future-looking devices that are bound to satisfy the majority of their fans.

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