Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hypocrisy - Osculum Obscenum (1993)


Over a decade ago, my best friend and I had a Friday night ritual that included meeting up and sharing our latest musical acquisitions. Back then, this was one of the main ways I got into new music (along with college radio and magazines). One gloomy Autumn night, he brought over Osculum Obscenum, the second full-length album from Swedish Death Metal band Hypocrisy. I had heard plenty of Death Metal over the years, but this was beyond all of that; far more evil and far more epic.

"Pleasure of Molestation" begins with a horror intro that really sets the mood for what is to come. It starts out quietly, and one gets the feeling of being pulled into a nightmare. Then, as the song gets going, the sound is not entirely similar to other Swedish Death Metal bands. The music is filled with dark energy and the vocals are extremely rough (almost as if Masse was gargling gravel) and filled with hate. There are many variations with the vocals, keeping things interesting. Similarly, the song includes various tempos. One can hear that it is Swedish, but the influences from American Death Metal, such as Deicide, are apparent as well. However, they quickly show that they are far superior to those who have influenced them.

"Exclamation of a Necrofag" keeps everything going. The bass seems to stand out on this particular song. Other than the heavy sound, this feels a lot like a Black Metal album. This may belong next to Necrophobic's The Nocturnal Silence as one of the earliest mixtures of the two. As the song progresses, there is a very slow part, reminiscent of Where No Life Dwells by Unleashed. This, combined with Peter's eerie guitar solo makes for a sinister atmosphere.

"Osculum Obscenum" begins with some odd effects and a ghastly moaning. The song is very slow and features layered vocals, giving a demonic feel (much like the first Deicide album). Never keeping to one tempo for too long, the song speeds up, quickly. The song is filled with brilliant Black Metal riffs, even if they are sometimes hard to focus on, due to the crushing drums.

By the time "Necronomicon" begins, the listener should really have a keen grasp on what this album is all about. Yet there are still surprises to be found and each song has its own identity. Again, one may notice that Masse's vocals are rough, even for Death Metal. His style is unmistakable and he does well not to sound like every other vocalist out there.

Next up is a crushing cover version of Venom's "Black Metal," which fits in perfectly with the rest of the Black/Death Metal that is featured here. Obviously, this is much heavier than the original.

Abruptly, "Inferior Devoties" starts up and continues the Satanic Death Metal onslaught. Later in the song there is a good Black Metal riff that doesn't quite get time to breathe, but it makes no difference as the pace slows down and an epic feeling is created with the slow riffs and chanting. However, this does not last long and the song marches forward, seeing the return of the aforementioned riff.

"Infant Sacrifices" is filled with evil, blasphemy and hate. This is what Death Metal should sound like. This song again displays Peter Tägtgren's ability to utilize epic riffs.

And now we come to the most epic song on the whole album, "Attachment To the Ancestor." Slow, doomy riffs fill the listener with a sense of dread and impending doom. The low, whispering voices and acoustic guitar add an eeriness. It becomes apparent that Hypocrisy really shine through during the slower moments, and this is the slowest song on the album. That is not to say that there is no variance in tempo. The song does, indeed, speed up for a bit. Everything is perfectly timed and structured to create the darkest feeling possible. This song is definitely one of the highlights of an album filled with brilliance.

"Althotas" is a great song to close the album with. This one song features Black, Death and Thrash riffs. There seems to be a little added desperation to the vocals and the melodies definitely give the feeling that this is the last assault before the end. The song then slows way down, with a fast tremolo melody playing along with the keyboard outro. Everything continues to slow down to an absolute crawl until there's nothing left but the brief horrific sounds that began the album. Simply one of the best endings to an album, period.

This album is evil and dark Black/Death Metal the way it should be. When compared to other Death Metal albums of the same period, this absolutely kills nearly everything. Eerie guitar work, Hellish screams, epic riffs... This is a classic and stands out as being above and beyond the majority of Hypocrisy's other works. This is the most solid and consistent album that they ever recorded. Buy this or kill yourself.