Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hypocrisy - Abducted (1996)

Displeased with the guitar sound that was achieved on The Fourth Dimension, Peter Tägtgren went on to create his own studio. The first album to be recorded there was the Black Metal side-project of Hypocrisy, The Abyss. Also worth noting is that this was both the name of the studio and the name of the first song recorded there (a Hypocrisy tune that was later released as an extra). As the band laboured in the studio, from March to October of 1995, the cleaner and more atmospheric guitar tone from the last album was replaced with something much harsher. It would appear that some of the feeling from The Other Side carried over into Hypocrisy, marking a change in the sound. Whatever the case, Hypocrisy's fourth full-length was released in February 1996. This album took the theme that was established on the previous record and continued with it, though only on two songs. Judging by the cover and title, one would expect a concept album. However, that would have to wait until the next release. The lyrical themes found on Abducted range from death to misery and the same anti-Christian stance that was ever-present, throughout the band's career. Lyrically, it's quite eclectic. The same could be said of the music, as well.

It begins with an eerie intro, taken from some sort of UFO program. Under the right circumstances, this has the potential to sound quite creepy. This intro, "The Gathering", leads into one of the most recognizable Hypocrisy songs ever, "Roswell 47". The song starts with a mid-paced melody that is all the more menacing due to the rumbling bass, in the background. This one also has the distinction of being a live favourite, often opening the set. Vocally, this displays even more variation, from Peter, as he now utilizes a thin and raspy voice that had not yet been employed on previous albums. It is more akin to the Black Metal style, though a little too clean for that. The lead solo goes well with the main melodies of the song, in creating an otherworldy effect. That last scream also has a way of freezing your blood.

"Killing Art" is a straight-forward, fast-paced song that returns to more standard lyrical themes. The vocals alternate between a deep and almost gargled sound and the higher-pitched rasp that has been unveiled on this record. There is also brief use of the choir vocals that add a melancholy sense to the proceedings.

"God can't help you now..."

The next song is much slower, conveying a feeling of doom. "The Arrival of the Demons (Part 2)" expands upon the outro from The Fourth Dimension. This song possesses a dismal feeling, accentuated by the soul-piercing lead solo. The vocal approach is quite varied, here, though retaining the woeful choir of clean vocals. Already, by the third song, the band has unleashed three very different songs; mid-paced and creepy, fast and aggressive, as well as slow and depressive.

"Reach for the silence
Reach for an end"

"Buried" starts with the gargled vocal style, soon to turn to the higher-pitched sound established earlier. Musically, it's kind of mid-paced Death Metal that builds as it progresses. A new riff is introduced, after a minute or so, which injects some small epic feeling into the song, as well as some strain of lifelessness that may go undetected.

The title track erupts with fury and vengeance, going straight for your throat. "Abducted" wastes no time in going for the kill, being quite violent and abrasive. The solo is one of the more intense ones, found here, as is the feeling conveyed as Peter screams, "Will they ever leave me alone?"

"Paradox" sees the return of the depressive doom vibe, this time managing to be even more cold and miserable than before. Whereas the previous songs still retained some sinister feeling as well, this one is pure despondency caught on tape. Even the vocals sound sort of half-dead and drained of life.

"Suicide, the only solution
Life is too much of hell and confusion"

Whether or not this is part of the UFO theme is up for debate, as some could stretch it enough to make that connection, though it seems to be another stand-alone track that is far more based in this hellish reality than any sort of science fiction concept. The lyrics may be hard for some to decipher, as they've never been included in Hypocrisy albums, and most online sources are based on haphazard attempts. In some sense, this is interesting as it leaves the listener to interpret on his own and to hear what he wishes, in a way. As the song progresses, the melodies have a way of tearing your chest open and ripping your heart out, destroying its withered remains before your very eyes and leaving you to die in hopelessness.

"Slashing my arms, to let the blood free
Soon to get away from the pain
I have lost all my beliefs
To a world of hypocrisy"

"Point of No Return" picks up the pace, a little bit, though taking a few moments to really get there. Midway through, there's some thrash break that leads into a decent solo. The song then ends with faster tremolo riffs, sounding like something leftover from The Abyss. Hypocrisy always featured elements of Black, Death and Doom, though this seems more overtly in the Black Metal style of guitar playing, as the song fades.

The morose and dismal atmosphere returns on "When the Candle Fades". This is is agonizingly slow, working to suffocate you and send you toward the great oblivion. Again, the vocals are more gargled and raspy. The deeper style would only surface again on the album that followed this one. Again, the concept of the album would appear to be UFOs and alien encounters, though this is only present in a few songs. The true theme of this work seems to be misery, in various forms. The pain may burn in many ways, but it's all the same. In truth, it is in these doom-filled and depressing moments that this band has always truly shined. Peter has a way of conveying feelings of misery and dread, through music.

"When the candle fades
The pain closing in
When the sun turns black
You release your blood and fade away"

"Carved Up" already appeared on the Maximum Abduction E.P., but was re-recorded for the L.P. On the outside, this song would seem more vicious and aggressive than the last one, but there's still some somber sentiment that comes through in the guitar melodies, as well as the passioned screams. As the song slows down, this feeling only increases. Despite the murderous lyrics, there's a miserable quality to the song. The lead solo only accentuates this.

"Reflections" is an instrumental track, resulting from the use of keyboards. The effect is both eerie and sorrowful, as this majestic song builds up and imbues the listener with images of tragedy. While experiencing this, one is prompted to look back on a life of misery and relive every poignant moment of despair and loss... to feel the grief of decades past as it comes alive, once more, and murders your spirit.

This flows into "Slippin' Away", which would seem quite out of place, but somehow fits into the dark mood of this record. This makes use of clean guitars and vocals, having an ethereal effect. The lyrics and delivery are utterly miserable. Life is finally seen for what it really is; a punishment. Something to be escaped. Nothing will ever improve. Death is the only salvation from this burden visited upon us all. Try as we might to fill it with some semblance of meaning, there is nothing. Attempting to understand this anguish will only make it worse. The end is coming. Better to hasten it, with one final act of defiance against this wretched curse.

"Bury the pain, as I bury this knife in my body
Slowly slipping away..."

"Drained" follows suit, being dreary and mournful. The title is very fitting, as the woeful vocals give the impression of someone who has been drained of nearly all signs of life, simply awaiting the end with open arms. The blade has penetrated your flesh and the crimson life is flowing freely. As life ebbs, you reflect on what once was; the sorrow and the loss... You've accomplished nothing and all that you thought you achieved has turned to ashes; incinerated by the black flames of despair. The only peace comes through the knowledge that it is finally over. The end has come. Death is upon you...