(On November 8 Century Media will release the new album by Italy’s Hideous Divinity, and today we present Andy Synn‘s review of the album.)
Italian stallions Hideous Divinity have been turning brutality into extreme art for over a decade now, with every album being that little bit faster, heavier, and more technical, than the one(s) before it.
The question now arises though – when your whole aesthetic is based on having everything turned up to eleven all the time, how do you sustain the same impact (and interest) as time goes on, without totally desensitising your audience in the process?
The answer, of course, is that it’s all about dynamics.
And while the difference between a 6 and a 7 on the intensity scale may not seem like all that much for bands working with a wider range of sounds, when you’re operating right at the bleeding edge the slight variance between a 10.5 and an 11 can make all the difference in the world.
Take opener “Deluzean Centuries”, for example, which immediately showcases the band’s particular knack for exploiting these minor dynamic differences for maximum effect.
On the surface it’s yet another manic blastathon designed to batter your brain into submission, but the subtle ways in which the band manage to ease off just enough, at key points, only to then come back even heavier and harder, provides the song with a clear sense of direction and forward momentum that instantly grabs your attention and refuses to let go.
This sense that things are continually moving forwards – rather than just running (or blasting) in place – is key to the band’s ongoing success, particularly as their music becomes more overtly technical, and the very best tracks here are the ones which successfully marry this increasing technicality to a well-defined and focussed intent.
Not every song is as successful at this as others, of course (and this is perhaps the one area where Simulacrum doesn’t quite match up to its predecessor), but the album’s highlights are still very high indeed.
Chief among them, in my opinion at least, is “Anamorphia Atto III”, which is not only the album’s longest song, but also its most well-written, interspersing its all-out assault with swift licks of high-velocity melody, imperious riffery, and headbangable hooks, all building towards a surprisingly doomy and ominous finale.
Yes, the track on the whole is still delivered at the sort of pace which has you worrying for the band’s continued health, but the sophisticated variety of twists and tricks they use to keep things constantly engaging demonstrates just how much method there is underlying the mayhem.
“Actaeon” is another of the album’s high points, blending fret-bending, face-melting intensity to some unexpectedly epic and grandiose riffs (especially at the song’s titanic climax), as are “Bent Until Fracture” and “Seed of a Future Horror”.
The former is a taut four-and-a-half minutes of pure brutality with just enough brains and melody to keep you constantly on your toes, while the latter is a veritable whirlwind of unpredictable twists and unrelenting force that finds the band careening towards catastrophe at breakneck speed yet somehow just managing to remain in control.
The one time the quintet do decide to ease off the gas (if only a little) is also one of the record’s most strikingly effective numbers, as although “Implemini Exitio” isn’t lacking in explosive bombast by any means, it’s also a surprisingly atmospheric number, especially at the beginning and end of the track, and its positioning as the album’s finale once again speaks highly of the way in which Hideous Divinity always seem to have one eye/ear on the relative dynamic and flow of their music.
The more I’ve thought about it, over the course of writing this review, the more that Simulacrum has come to remind me of the most recent Mad Max film.
In the latter case, while many criticised Fury Road as “just” a car chase, in doing so they failed to grasp that the chase was just the setting of the story, not the story itself. They confused the medium for the message.
And the same is true here. Simulacrum may well be “just” another example of the hyper-fast Italian hyper-blast style to some people, but it’s also much more than that, and those willing to engage with it, to look past the superficial sound and fury, will inevitably discover just how much more it has to offer.