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Shadow Music Ryan Harding Review by
Ryan Harding
Nuclear Blast

After nearly calling it quits, Sweden's HYPOCRISY releases their sixth full length to compliment the supreme live album from earlier this year. THE FINAL CHAPTER would have been a fitting conclusion, but HYPOCRISY dared to forge on.

Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Pete Tagtren, bassist Mikael Hedlund, and drummer Lars Soze, this outing sees a bit more contribution from Hedlund and Soze. Structurally it would seem to be an attempt to relive the glory of '96's ABDUCTED, with melodic opening song, fast second track, and finishing moody compositions. "Fractured Millennium" leads off, mostly a recreation of "Apocalypse," a decent welcome back. Better, if not best, is "Apocalyptic Hybrid," a speed track which plows through its four minutes dispensing riff after riff, building to a blast climax. The energy of this track is unfortunately unmatched for the rest of the album, aside from "Time Warp." "Fusion Programmed Minds" is not without its merits, but its technique raises questions - it's a shameless imitation of IN FLAMES. More driven than IN FLAMES (who basically re-did WHORACLE this year but called it COLONY instead), but of undeniable origin.

A little strange that a band getting notoriety for originality hasn't been called on borrowing.

Nor does it stop there.

Clean vocals have become a staple of HYPOCRISY since THE FOURTH DIMENSION, sparsely used. This time around, Tagtren uses them beyond appreciable territory. A couple singing patterns are instantly recognizable ("Paranormal Mysteria," "Disconnected Magnetic Corridords") from radio hits of all things, and obviously the festivities cannot retain pure metal identity through this. "Elastic Inverted Visions" is the stand-out besides "Apocalyptic," with its more brooding tones. "Until the End" also goes for this feel, and would have been more effective had we not heard the demo version on the live album bonus tracks. I liked the demo better. "Paranormal Mysteria" builds a couple minutes and then dead ends, going nowhere. The final tracks are supposed to hit the emotional apex, but "Disconnected" falters, running around in contrived circles. "Paled Empty Sphere" fares better, and probably would work better all by itself. HYPOCRISY makes you glad Tagtren and company continued, but the results are unbalanced, lacking the focus of their previous works. I'd like to see Tagtren show his full vocal range, because though the blackened screams and clean singing are represented, the traditional lows are gone.

When on target the album has real power that should not be overlooked, but perhaps the relief of still having HYPOCRISY has made some critics a bit too forgiving. Not enough potential is realized to make this the album of the year it might have otherwise been.


Perplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex Skull

This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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