May 022020


(For this new edition of a column devoted to lyrics in metal Andy Synn obtained insights from Paolo Pieri, who for the last decade has been lyricist, vocalist, and guitarist in the Italian death metal band Hour of Penance.)

If you don’t know the name Hour of Penance, well, chances are you’re either new to this site and/or new to Metal in general, as we’ve been fans of these Italian iconoclasts (who celebrated twenty years of existence by releasing their eighth album just last year) for a long, long time now.

In my own case it was stumbling across a copy of The Vile Conception in my local (now sadly defunct) independent record store (remember those?) which first introduced me to the band and their brand of ultra-intense, hook-heavy Death Metal and which led, by a complex, convoluted route, to actually supporting them on a short run of dates in the UK at the end of last year!

As you might have gathered, this edition of Waxing Lyrical is particularly special to me, and so I’d like to send out a personal thank you to HoP frontman Paolo Pieri for taking the time to craft such an interesting and well-thought-out series of responses for us.

Now, without further ado… Continue reading »

Oct 212019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Italian death metal band Hour of Penance, which is set for release on October 25th by Agonia Records.)

Being in a band is hard. I can tell you that right now. Simply being good at what you do isn’t enough to guarantee you’re going to be successful (whatever that means).

Truth be told there’s a lot more involved than just being able to string together a series of sick riffs, including (although many don’t like to admit it) a fair bit of luck and good fortune.

But being able to build an actual career out of your music is even harder still. It takes all those aspects alluded to above – skill, luck, ambition – and more.

Perhaps most importantly it takes perseverance, and an ability to weather all the ups and downs, the false-starts and set-backs, that come with the territory. And, even then, lots of bands still don’t make it (through no fault of their own).

All this is a long-winded way of saying that it’s very rare indeed for bands to make it as far as Hour of Penance have here, with the imminent release of their eighth album, Misotheism. Continue reading »

Sep 122019

Hour of Penance


Much as I hate to do this, I’m going to resort to the format I used last Saturday when I was similarly pressed for time — just serve up some of the new songs and videos I’d like to recommend from what I’ve encountered this week, sans verbiage from me (except in one case). I’m probably going to do the same thing tomorrow, because I have a long list of recommendations.

My shortage of time is going to persist from now through the weekend, thanks to travel, meetings, and nose-to-the-grindstone efforts required by that thing that pays all the bills around here (my fucking day job). Continue reading »

Jul 302019


My usual mission, and it’s usually an obvious one, is to compile these round-ups of new music in a way that presents diversity. When I make my own playlists of music, I prefer to have one track vary (stylistically) from the next to the next to the next. And that’s in the back of my head when I make these SEEN AND HEARD collections; I think of them as playlists of what I would like to listen to, with the added benefit that because the sounds vary, even listeners who have very pronounced preferences might find at least one thing that grabs them, even if they don’t like everything else.

Having said that, what I’ve collected today is particularly all over the place. It starts within the red zone of insanity, and winds up there again, and there are some other zones of insanity in between, zones of very different colors. I don’t expect all of you to like all of this. If you did… well… you would be me, and wouldn’t that be weird? (Obviously, I’ve divided the collection into two Parts, with the second to arrive later today.)


On this day (July 30) the Dutch black metal band Sammath celebrate their 25th birthday, and they have done that by releasing a stream of the first song from their new album, Across The Rhine Is Only Death, via a DECIBEL premiere. As the name suggests, and as the band explain, the album is “a true tale of death and destruction”, conceptually focused on the final months of World War II when Germany desperately tried to hold the Rhine as its western border. Far from a celebration of war, it represents an effort to summon the horrific annihilation that humanity is capable of inflicting on itself — and this new song is utterly annihilating in its own right. Continue reading »

Jan 242017


(DGR reviews the new album by Italy’s Hour of Penance, which will be released on January 27 by Prosthetic Records.)

There is a temptation when writing reviews to believe that everything needs to have some sort of deeper meaning attached to it — especially when it comes to music, because the idea of describing sound with words is one that can paralyze a person. So whenever something is pretty much exactly what it says on the box, you can often find yourself spinning endlessly.

Italy’s long-running Hour Of Penance have made a name for themselves in the brutal death scene since their full-length starter in 2003 as one of the forebears of the hyperblasting death metal bands who now seem to extrude out of that country like few others. Since 2010’s Paradogma, Hour Of Penance have really found a sound for themselves, a relentless battering of metal that is driven almost entirely by a wall of hellfire-belching guitars and drumwork that exists somewhere between Gatling gun and machine gun in terms of speed. Continue reading »

Oct 122016



Yes, there are quite a lot of names in the headline of this post, but what follows isn’t quite as daunting as you might think. The first two items consist of news and art for forthcoming releases, but no music yet, and the last two items are just brief teasers of new music. In between I’ve sandwiched four full songs and videos, and I’m quite happy with what I’ve chosen, not only because the music is very good considered in isolation but also because collectively they make for a nice, varied playlist (and the two videos and album covers are quite eye-catching, too). At least it should be nice for people who have eclectic tastes. Here we go….


That’s a hell of a metal album cover up there, isn’t it? It was disclosed yesterday by Italy’s Hour of Penance and Prosthetic Records, who will release the band’s new album Cast the First Stone on January 27, 2017. The cover was created by Gyula Havancsak, whose work we’ve praised before in these pages.

The announcement was accompanied not only by a quote from our site (yay!) but also by the following statement from the band’s vocalist Paolo Pieri concerning the concept of the album, which revolves around the idea that “the injustices suffered during the Crusades and Colonialism do not justify the chain of hate that propagandizes the destruction of the West”: Continue reading »

Jul 182015

Volturyon-Human Demolition


Well, when I made the announcement that I was going to resume the roll-out of our list of last year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs — five months after the last installment in the series — I did warn you that I probably wouldn’t be posting a new installment every day. But I didn’t think I’d let three weeks go by after the last installment. Sorry about that.

Anyway, here are two more songs for the list, and I have two more in mind for tomorrow — and if perchance you don’t know what this list is about, you can find an explanation here.


Volturyon’s vicious little five-track gem of an EP, Human Demolition, was a particular favorite of my comrade DGR (reviewed here). Thanks to him, I finally listened to all of it a couple of weeks ago, and yeah, I’m sold. There are really no weak spots on the EP, but one song in particular stands out as the most infectious, and that one is the next addition to this list. I’ll borrow from DGR’s review: Continue reading »

Aug 112014


(Guest writer Ty Lowery has assembled a personal list of favorite metal album covers for 2014 to date, divided into two parts. Please feel free to add your own favorites in the Comments.)

Sometime last year, I had planned to showcase some of my favorite album covers. However, as you might imagine, that didn’t happen. So, a bit over halfway through 2014 already, I’ve decided to give it a go again so I don’t have to worry with trying to find everything last minute and become overwhelmed at year-end. I’ve been looking back at some of my favorite album covers, as well as looking at random covers here and there, and I must say, I’ve found a lot more than I expected- so many that I think it’s be best to break this up into a couple of posts.

I’ve actually happened upon some really cool bands this way, too, which isn’t out of the ordinary but worth noting nonetheless. Had it not been for their album art, I might never have found some of the following bands, one of which I simply can’t get enough of. However, to be clear, I’ve done this exercise for the sole purpose of rounding up the nicest looking album art, according to my own tastes. There are a couple of bands in here whose music I can’t stand, and a couple more I’d never heard of before. So to avoid any confusion, I am not necessarily recommending all of the albums featured below. They all just chose wisely for their album art.

Since I began working on this article, I noticed something peculiar: A good number of the album covers correlated in one sense or another with the music on the album. To make sure that I wasn’t just imagining this, I asked my wife (who’s not very big on metal music as a whole) and a friend of mine (who is) to look at the album art and give me their impressions. Some of them were spot-on, others not so much. Here’s what we came up with for the first nine. (Another note, these are in no particular order. They are just listed as I came upon them.)

BelphegorConjuring the Dead

This might be one of the best “photo realistic” album covers I’ve seen so far this year. It’s got the dark, gritty feel washing over it in shoals. The symbolism on the cover speaks of blasphemy, a great deal of death, and more than a smidge of Satanic interplay. When my wife Heather saw it, she immediately guessed that it was death metal, which is a good part of the album, so I’ll give it to her. My friend Adam said the same thing: “This had better be death metal.” Heather also hit the nail on the head about the dark/demonic themes that run throughout many of the songs. That’s a point for the correlation theory, although an easy one. Continue reading »

Jun 092014

Here are four startling new events that happened over the weekend.


Death Grips released the first half of a new album last night. As is their want, there was no advance notice, or at least none that I saw. The name is niggas on the moon. It’s 8 tracks long, it’s streaming in full on Soundcloud and YouTube, and it’s free to download. And all 8 songs feature Björk. Seriously.

The band’s announcement says this 8-song release is the first half of a double album, the name of which is the powers that b. They say it will be released later this year on Harvest/Third Worlds Records.

I haven’t started listening to the music as I write this on a Sunday night, so I’ll save any thoughts about it for a later update. Or maybe someone else around here will provide some thoughts. I’m expecting weirdness.

To download the music, click this link:

Stream it below. Continue reading »

May 202014

You would be hard-pressed to find another 2014 album more packed with super-heated fury than Regicide, the new album by Italy’s Hour of Penance. To borrow the words of our reviewer Andy Synn, it’s “utterly destructive”, loaded with a “wealth of punishing riffage, bloody hooks, and concentrated venom”, but with “subtle refinements and embellishments that the band have made to their familiar formula, tiny tweaks designed to increase its lethal virulence without compromising the ferocious core of their identity.”

In June, North American audiences will get a chance to see Hour of Penance decimate cities across the U.S. and Canada when the band embark on the Conquerors of the World tour with Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Necronomicon. Today you can get a preview of the band’s potent live show through our premiere of the official Hour of Penance video for “Theogony”, which was filmed live at their recent headlining gig in Wakefield, England. Continue reading »