Hour of Penance


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For all its inherent brutality, technical death metal tends to populate its lyrics with predominantly intellectual matters, but not so where Italy's Hour of Penance is concerned. Instead, and surely much to their mamas' and nonas' chagrin, the Rome-based quintet puts all of the considerable power of their virtuosic aggression to the task of attacking, demoralizing, and undermining the catholic church. Don't forget, unlike most comparable bands spread across the globe, Hour of Penance literally has Vatican City within their sights -- or at the very least, that of the band's only career-spanning mainstay, guitarist Guilio Moschini, who once again effortlessly navigated the recruitment of new members while recording 2012's Sedition. Said new lineup -- consisting of vocalist Paulo Pieri, drummer Simone Piras, and returning bassist Silvano Leone -- quickly shows its metal mettle as Sedition's remorseless sonic Armageddon is unleashed; but then, although it's Pieri who declares calamity upon the clergy, it's ultimately Moschini's consistently inventive, overpowering, and, yes, even tasteful guitar work that delivers the plagues and directs traffic here. And, like the average Italian intersection, there is, in fact, an orchestrated symphony behind the apparent madness of warring riffs and counterpoints displayed by standouts such as "Enlightened Submission," "Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God," and "Sedition Through Scorn," as well as the astonishingly musical solos heard on "Fall of Servants" and "Ascension." By the way, not to disparage Pieri's suitably enraged delivery, Piras' octopus-like percussion, or even Leone's efficiently subservient bottom end; but the listener is still essentially helpless without a lyric sheet to decipher his roars (a lyric sheet surely composed by Moschini). Nevertheless, their combined efforts will easily carry Hour of Penance's vituperative message of Sedition across the Roman streets and over the Vatican walls where a certain top-ranking prelate and his chums will surely be cowering in terror.

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