Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hypocrisy - Inferior Devoties (1994)

A short time after the release of Osculum Obscenum, Hypocrisy found itself with the problem of having to eject their vocalist, Masse Broberg. Rather than recruit a new member, Peter Tägtgren simply stepped into that role as well. He had already done vocals for the title track of their 1992 debut, Penetralia. In an effort to ease himself (and the fans) through this transition, it was decided that the band would record an E.P. In October 1993, the band entered Studio Rockshop to create Inferior Devoties, their first release as a three-piece.

The E.P. begins with a re-recorded version of "Inferior Devoties". Musically, it is extremely close to the L.P. version, with only minor differences. One might assume that the point of doing this was to prove that Peter could handle the earlier material, though it comes off a little weaker than the original version. His vocals were not quite as refined as they would be on The Fourth Dimension. The atmosphere is much the same, with an added crispness to the sound, which is barely perceptible. In a way, it was wise to lead off the E.P. with this song, as it addresses the issue that many would have as it regarded comparing the two vocalists and determining whether or not Peter could fill Masse's shoes, so to speak. While the difference is noticeable, he proves himself fully competent in this role.

The following song is much stronger and is used as the first track (the title track is omitted) on the digipak version of Osculum Obscenum, which includes the songs from this E.P. (as well as from the Pleasure of Molestation E.P.) as bonus tracks. "Symbol of Baphomet" It a fairly intense song, that utilizes some thrash riffs to go along with the Swedish Death Metal assault. There's some otherworldly quality to the solos, which is something Hypocrisy was well known for in those days. About halfway through, the pace slows down a bit and begins building an ethereal atmosphere, which includes some spoken word bit, in the background. Shortly after this, things pick up again and the song ends with much the same intensity that it possessed in the opening moments.

"Mental Emotions" was one of the first Hypocrisy songs that I ever heard. This one begins with a much slower pace, with the doom vibe that the band was quite known for having. After a minute or so, it speeds up while never getting terribly fast (save for a brief blast beat). The production of this E.P. is a bit clearer than on the previous albums, though still a little raw when compared to The Fourth Dimension. Vocally, Peter shows a bit of range as he goes from the deeper growls to the more high-pitched shrieks. This song is very memorable and one that will get caught in your mind after the first listen.

The next song is a re-recorded version of "God Is A Lie". The slight improvement in production is a plus, in this case, as things are more crisp and sped up as well. In fact, it's so much faster than the original that they were able to add some brief sample, near the end, in order to fill in time I would assume. It's an odd sample, as it features part of the intro to the title track of their debut album, mixed with the intro noises from their cover of Venom's "Black Metal", from Osculum Obscenum. Also, the solo seems to have been re-worked and expanded. All in all, it has a bit more punch than the Penetralia version.

Inferior Devoties concludes with a cover of Slayer's "Black Magic", which also appeared on the tribute album, Slatanic Slaughter. Musically, this is very faithful to the original version. Even Hedlund's bass sounds to have a similar tone. The primary difference, of course, are the harsh vocals. Peter does a really good job, showing some variation here. Most surprising of all, is where he actually breaks into a high-pitched scream, at one point. Along with Dissection, Hypocrisy managed to stand out on the tribute album as being among the few to preserve the essence of what Slayer had done. The playing is tight and they've done just enough to add their own touch to it, while maintaining the atmosphere of the original. This is a much better choice for a cover song, than "Black Metal", as it just seems to blend in with the rest of the material, somehow.

This E.P. was successful in giving Hypocrisy fans a taste of the new line-up (sans Broberg), as well as a collection of good songs that places this among my favourite mini albums. The one thing it failed to do, though I doubt this was ever the intent, was to give any indication as to what direction the band would take on the following album. Regardless, this is a quality release and, if it's still available, one that is highly recommended.