Nuclear Blast Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When we last heard from the boys in Hypocrisy, Peter Tagtgren and crew were showing their skills on the live album Hypocrisy Destroys Wacken Live, a disc that served unofficially both as a "greatest hits" disc and as a hell of a welcome for someone who may have never heard this Swedish band's work before. I was in the latter group, and after listening to the disc, I was dying to hear more.

From the "Boy, That Was Fast" department, vocalist/guitarist Tagtgren, bassist Mikael Hedlund and drummer Lars Szoke return with their latest release, a self-titled effort that leaves any expectations you might have had in the dust. Hypocrisy is an album that moves from the closest thing one could call a "ballad" in heavy metal to grindcore that will leave your neck snapping for days, to more - dare I say it? - conventional performances. All of this will leave your jaw scraping the pavement in disbelief - and pleasure.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One side note: The copy I was sent to review was an advance with the warning, "All songs are unmastered!" You sure could have fooled me; I hope they didn't change much, 'cause the sound on the advance copy promo was incredible.

Tagtgren and crew quickly get down to business on tracks like "Fractured Millenium," "Fusion Programmed Minds" and "Static Inverted Vision," creating such a rich layer of sound that it almost seems impossible that you're listening to a three-piece band. (It also seems impossible to think that not terribly long ago, Tagtgren almost pulled the plug on Hypocrisy.) There are times where the music takes a spooky turn, almost making you feel like you're watching a horror film; when Tagtgren's seven-string guitar work kicks in, it's just like the murderer put their hand on your shoulder. (No joke; I actually jumped at one point when Tagtgren's playing started.)

What makes Hypocrisy such an intriguing listen is that the band can go from one extreme of speed (the break-neck pace of "Apocalyptic Hybrid") to the other (the almost ballad-like "Disconnected Magnetic Corridors") and make it all sound like this is the way all music is supposed to happen. It takes musical skill and solid songwriting to make such a shift work, and Hypocrisy is a band that knows how to do both well.

The only drawback to this album - and the only thing keeping the disc from being perfect in my eyes - is that it's often difficult to understand what Tagtgren is screaming about. I don't know if the full commercial version of this disc comes with lyrics (my promo doesn't), but they would have been beneficial. Even so, you don't have to understand every word of the song to grasp the importance of the story.

I would not be surprised if a lot of metal magazines named Hypocrisy one of the best albums of the year. However, I would be surprised if this album didn't break this band into the more mainstream knowledge of today's metal-heads. Hypocrisy is a portrait of a band who deserve every ounce of success that comes their way, and is another album that leaves me wanting to hear more of this group.

Rating: A-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.