From Italy thunders in long lived death metal institution Hour Of Penance. Though on the map since 2000, a revolving door of musicians have taken the mantle over the years to the point where no founding members remain (shades of Napalm Death). Their new LP “Cast The First Stone” solidifies and concentrates their attack into an impenetrable wall of violence that more than lives up to it’s amazing cover art (seriously, look at that fucking thing).
“Cast The First Stone” finds Hour Of Penance assuming a style that sits somewhere between “Demigod” era Behemoth and the Dimmu Borgir of “Death Cult Armageddon” (though without clean singing and going very going easy on the orchestration), meaning this is visceral, rampaging and highly aggressive stuff that barely lets the listener catch their breath musically, while vocally and lyrically, a constant stream of rasping blasphemy spews forth from maniacal mouthpiece Paolo Pieri. I wouldn’t have my blackened tech death any other way.
Sirens of war blaze over the relentless tirade of “Burning Bright”, “Shroud of Ashes” marches triumphantly in drums and vocals, with melodic, supremely earworm-y guitar parts waging their own war in the background. Catastrophic, swirling speed picking and dangerously catchy thrash drumming signal “The Chains Of Misdeed”, while “Iron Fist” lives up to its name in epic, skull pounding form and function.
Even greater than the sum of its individual, extremely well done parts, this record just flows beautifully from beginning to end. No filler, no fat, no skip-able tracks. Aspirations towards operatic theatricality, prog, choirs, orchestras, these things can be awesome but can also bog down the intent of a lot of black and doom leaning European bands. Hour Of Penance aspire to do little else but pummel the listener with a sleek, deft onslaught of brutality, delivered brilliantly. “Cast The First Stone” isn’t just an icy blast of death ferocious enough to make even gods tremble, it’s also a breath of fresh air.
“Cast The First Stone” is available now.