To move ahead, or stick to a tried-and-true, effective formula? Such is the conundrum presented by Arrival, Hypocrisy's ninth album, which ditches the nearly anti-intellectual chuggery of its poorly received predecessor Catch 22, and takes a deliberate step back to the grandiose strains of benchmark albums The Final Chapter and Hypocrisy. One can't help but picture main songwriter Peter Tagtgren -- sometimes referred to as the "death metal Rick Rubin" because of his oft-utilized production skills -- crafting this creepy stuff in isolation, the drapes pulled, sunken eyes perusing the extreme metal cookbook, while pale, wiry limbs stir a bubbling cauldron of grandiose gothic chords and concoct beautifully ugly Euro-death skyscrapers. However, Tagtgren is spinning his wheels here a bit, resurrecting the (tired?) alien-invader themes of past records, yet still penning wonderfully nasty tunes with streamlined arrangements, and smartly sidestepping easy genre classification. He consistently skirts the edges of death and black metal while committing to neither; see the militaristic chug of "New World," the molten-lava tempo of skullcrusher "The Abyss," and the dense, murky melodicism of "Born Dead Buried Alive," "Dead Sky Dawning," and "Slave to the Parasites," all of which, come chorus time, boast catchy, distinctly Swedish hooks (see also: In Flames, Soilwork). Bottom line, Arrival impressively flexes its muscles with respect to performances (especially Tagtgren's unique myriad of death-derived vocal approaches), production and songwriting, and attention to detail and entertainment value, making it a difficult record to criticize. On its own, it's a terrific, memorable effort, but in the context of Hypocrisy's beefy catalog, it's a bit derivative, one expects a bit more boundary-pushing via the twisted, trusted, and well-respected mind of Tagtgren.
The Arrival Review
by John Serba