(DGR turns in one of his typically detailed reviews, this time focusing on the new album by Italy’s Hideous Divinity.)
I tried something different with my first few listens of the new Hideous Divinity album Adveniens. I put the whole thing into a shuffled order, so that the first few times Adveniens breathed life into my speakers, it was done in a random order each time. I did so because I wanted to really see what songs captured my attention, which ones really reached out into the ether and punched me hard enough to make me check what song I was on.
I say this, in part, because the branches of the hyperblasting brutal-death metal tree that Hideous Divinity hail from are many, and at times it can be difficult for bands to stick out. Now three albums deep, Hideous Divinity have never had too much of an issue with it — having written their music like lyrical mad scientists unleashed upon the brutal death world — but the line between a solid hunk of speedy and caveman-level groove-heavy death metal and the monotonous whirring of a truck engine can be a little thin, and even the best of bands have failed the wire-walking act and fallen into that crevasse before. Adveniens does not.
Hideous Divinity have approached the new disc with concept in hand and a determination to throw everything they have into each song, going beyond mere spectacles of talent and brutality and into surgical bludgeoning form, multiple strikes aimed at leveling whole city blocks but done with such focus that they hit their target every time.
Heaping nine death metal songs that easily clear the five-to-six minute mark each time can feel like a tall order, and Adveniens weighs in slightly heavy compared to its 2014 predecessor Cobra Verde, but it is an interesting proposition. As of this writing, Hideous Divinity have released two songs into the wild — “Ages Die” and “Angel Of Revolution” — yet whilst those songs are recognizably heavy face-smashers, they were not the ones that really spoke out to me on the first couple of random go-arounds, before the album was returned to its proper order and taken in as one massive whole. In fact, it’s kind of exciting to say this, because those first two songs are so good, yet I found three other standout tracks on Adveniens where the disc really proves its worth — because that means for you the best is yet to come.
Although my initial impressions of Adveniens came from a mixed-up track order, I did that because I was fairly confident that a new Hideous Divinity album would be quality. They have proven over their previous two albums that they’ve got their chosen genre-fare down, and with 2014’s Cobra Verde were open to twisting and contorting it into different masses of flesh to see if they could perhaps push things a little further than brutal death might initially allow.
At its core, a Hideous Divinity album is going to reliably sound like a Hideous Divinity disc — it is where they choose to push and stretch their boundaries, how they choose to contort their brand of death metal into new forms, that the band get interesting.
Adveniens goes with a more traditional full-on assault approach, but the songs themselves extend for much longer than the group’s previous works. Both their previous albums Obeisance Rising and Cobra Verde lay in the mid-to-upper forty-minute mark, but they did so by either having a large collection of songs, or just a big block of them — Obeisance, with its closer-to-Adveniens length of forty-eight plus, had the larger track listing, and Cobra Verde had only nine songs, but kept its song lengths a little longer. Adveniens is forty-eight-plus minutes of brutal death spread over nine songs, with some fairly long-running tracks. That’s where Hideous Divinity keep it interesting this time around, because they do their damnedest to make sure each song organically grows and shifts, justifying the sometimes seven-minute-plus run-time, all while maintaining a pretty high clip on the speed front.
“Ages Die” and “Angel Of Revolution” are both good examples of how Adveniens exists as a whole. Both are extremely thick tracks, with a lot of death metal packed into the six-and-a-half minutes and the almost-six minutes that each track asks of you.
“Ages Die” is the album opener, with some subtle comparisons to be made to Cobra Verde’s album opener “In My Land I Was A Snake” — which was almost eight minutes in length. If anything, the Hideous Divinity crew are big fans of the barrier-to-entry method of opening a disc. If you can’t handle the almost seven minutes of fury that Adveniens opens with, then the rest of the album is going to quickly prove to be too much for you, because it is a heaping helping of more of that. There’s no sudden genre shift after that initial instrument scorching. Instead, Hideous Divinity set into a heavy groove of exploration of flesh and all its gore-soaked remnants for the following forty minutes.
The three songs that I drooled about in the opening of this review are where Adveniens really makes its mark, though. Those three — “Passages”, “When Flesh Unfolds”, and “Messianica” — are the songs where Hideous Divinity leap beyond the usual terrifying displays of technical brutality and into some fully dynamic song-work.
Still maintaining the hyper-acceleration of the two songs before it, “Passages” adds another seven minutes to the death metal excitement. “Passages” actually starts quietly, a stark difference compared to a big chunk of Adveniens, which tends to prefer the “all weapons go from moment one” approach. Granted, it’s a fairly quick intro, but the amount of breathing room that “Passages” gives itself makes the song have multiple movements, from the quiet intro to the first explosion of guttural vocals, to the initial singular guitar part before you descend into the realms of the familiar from there on out.
“Passages” is a percussive song as well, with the guitar work and rhythm section in tandem with each other for a good part of its run-time. In some ways, it feels like the band themselves realized that, by then giving a quiet moment to the drums in the closing sections of the song — before that one final, loud, triumphant return with the band at full volume.
The song continually folds in on itself over and over again as well, hardening itself into its final seven-minute shell, and each part does get a chance to return briefly; if you’re a big fan of those high vocal screams that make themselves known at around the two-and-a-half-minute mark, those definitely make a return, and each time they do is great.
“When Flesh Unfolds”, on the other hand, is only half the length of “Passages” and is the more traditional blast-fest that one comes to Hideous Divinity for. However, it gains most of its strength from the vocal attack — which is constant and absolutely relentless. It lies in the back half of Adveniens — which so far, we haven’t heard much from (“Ages Die” and “Angel Of Revolution” are songs one and four) — right before “Messianica”, which gives Adveniens a pretty lethal one-two combination in its back run-time.
“When Flesh Unfolds” is also one of the more blatant expositions of the Adveniens concept, one that treads heavily in the body-horror realm, pulling inspiration from Cronenberg’s Videodrome — which you might’ve noticed, given the “new flesh” sample at the opening of “Ages Die”. It is a concept that “When Flesh Unfolds” takes and runs with, moving beyond the usual shock-and-awe battering and into shrill territory, the “WHEN FLESH UNFOLDS” chorus especially. As it is repeated over and over, it punctuates the whole song and exists for people to yell along to.
“Messianica” is the thrashier of the three songs, another shorter one that runs in right after “When Flesh Unfolds” vacates the scene. For its first couple of minutes, it avoids the traditional relentless blast that Hideous Divinity get so much mileage out of, instead going for the constant one-two rotating snare attack, which is probably the most circle-pit-igniting that Adveniens gets. The rest of the album is constant warfare, but if you’re looking for the song that at least for its opening minutes will make people run laps, then “Messianica” is the track.
It also contains my favorite bass guitar section on the album, about halfway through the song, when the bass steps up into the forefront of the mix and you can really hear the notes crawling out of it, in an eerie and insect-like fashion as they ascend higher and higher. It’s a brief minute, but it is a reminder that Hideous Divinity’s bassist Stefano Franceschini is one hell of a weapon, and the band know it.
Adveniens is filled to the brim with rhythmic riffs like tidal waves crashing over your head, each song further ensconcing Hideous Divinity well within that lightspeed-fast, hyper-death-metal genre, one that takes many cues from brutal death metal but is less about the overall groove and more about just utter relentlessness. There are many segments throughout Adveniens that you can’t help but headbang to, but Adveniens is also a huge album and is almost non-stop from moment one. The few sections of this album where you can actually breathe come as a welcome relief, because the Hideous Divinity crew remain one of the heaviest acts that are absolutely willing to throw the full force of their weight around.
Every few years this band bring enough force with them to level a whole city, and Adveniens continues that trend. It is also the most laser-focused that Hideous Divinity have ever sounded on just how violent they want to be. There’s nothing aimless here, just one transition from massive guitar riff and huge drum blast to another, with vocal work that goes beyond the usual grunt and yell affair, this time going for the absolutely monstrous.
With Adveniens, Hideous Divinity have made a huge mark in their career, fusing together the best of what they’ve done to date into one giant forty-eight-minute slab of death metal. It is an atomic blast that never seems to stop expanding ever-outward from moment one, never losing momentum, and leaving nothing but ash, dust, and mutation in its aftermath.
Adveniens will be released on April 28 by Unique Leader. Listen to two tracks below, and pre-order here: