Regicide is the sixth album by Italian tech-death stalwarts Hour of Penance. Though overshadowed by the success of former vocalist Francesco Paoli’s other project Fleshgod Apocalypse, they’ve been consistently delivering phenomenal albums of incisive technical death metal, and Regicide continues the tradition in stunning fashion.
Beginning with a short intro with unsettling chants and percussion, before driving straight into the first song proper, Reforging the Crowns begins with a flurry of technical, razor sharp riffage at lightning speeds, with a really incisive guitar tone, which really cuts straight through your ears. The lightning speed riffs flows in perfect tandem with a barrage of relentless drumming, with blasts and inventive fills creating a really brutal sound. The vocals on that track are brilliant, and a really great atmosphere is created with the really tortured sounding growls and screams set against the technical playing . The band use their intense pace and technical mastery throughout Regicide delivering riff after riff each as incisive as the last, but with the constant tempo changes and time signatures used, each one bludgeons you to death. This isn’t tech-death filled with fretboard wankery, or abyssal depth, or even a sense of incoherent insanity – what Hour of Penance do, and do brilliantly, is use their technical wizardry to deliver an insane magnitude of devastating riffs, all razor sharp and sonically destructive, really varied in style and tempo, yet still delivering coherent and well written songs. The solos are insane too, again lightning fast and vicious, each one seeming to cut it’s way through your grey matter.
Spears of Sacred Doom is a particularly brilliant track, with its vicious pounding chugged riffs, slower technical leads, and the shredding solos, and unrelenting barrage of drums, while the unsettling grandiose atmosphere created by the chanted opening to Sealed Into Ecstasy really sets the tone for a dark maelstrom of slower surgical guitar,s pounding drum assaults, and fantastic vocal lines for the ever intense growls. The best of the bunch though is Redeemer of Atrocity which has one of the most fast, heavy and intense blast beats I’ve ever heard in that apocalyptic intro, and those sharp chugging riffs shred so hard they threaten to cut your ears right off. Add another bout of grotesque growls and you have a recipe for probably the heaviest track of 2014.
Perhaps the only criticism is they don’t seem to know how to end their songs, and they kind of just stop abruptly right while they’re still tearing at your throat, leaving you a little disappointed. But it’s a minor criticism when the band shreds quite this much,and ultimately, Regicide is so far the most essential death metal albums of 2014 and you all need to hear this. A lesson to all tech death bands everywhere, THIS is how it’s done.