Aug 312011

Three days ago we reviewed the new EP from Italian face-melters Eyeconoclast, Sharpening Our Blades On the Mainstream. Eyeconoclast’s drummer is Mauro Mercurio, and his participation on the EP is one of the things that drew us to Eyeconoclast in the first place. Mercurio was the drummer for a phenomenal Roman death-metal band called Hour of Penance from about 1999 until 2010 and he’s been involved in other projects, as well as doing session work (e.g., he was the session drummer on Oracles (2009), the debut full-length by Fleshgod Apocalypse).

I’ve said before that I don’t know enough about the art of drumming to be a sophisticated critic of drum performances in extreme metal bands. I know what I enjoy hearing and I know when drumming makes an impression on me as I listen to a song and when it doesn’t particularly stand out, but my understanding isn’t much deeper than that. I’m also susceptible to a feeling of awe at sheer, unadulterated speed, especially when the performer is making use of the whole kit at a blazing pace.

Mercurio is one of those drummers who leaves my mouth hanging open, drooling slightly, with a cretinous glazed look in my eyes. I got that gap-mouthed, glazed look this morning when I saw a video that Mercurio put up on YouTube yesterday. It shows him laying down the drum track — in one take — for the title song on that Eyeconoclast EP. According to Mercurio’s note accompanying the video, the tempo of the whole song is 300 beats per minute (bpm). If my math is right, that’s 5 beats per second. This seems very fast to me. The normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Can the human heart beat at 300 bpm without exploding?

Mercurio also notes that in this recording, there were no triggers on the snares or toms and no studio editing on the drum track. Watch this shit after the jump, and in case you missed the song itself when we reviewed the EP a few days ago, you can hear that after the jump, too. Continue reading »

May 192010

We knew Rome’s Hour of Penance had legions of devoted fans around the world (including us), but we found out the hard way just how devoted they are.

Last week, we reported the bad news about what happened at their show in Alicante, Spain not long ago. In a nutshell, the band’s drummer Mauro Mercurio was unable to play on stage (apparently due to being too fucked up) and had destroyed or damaged property at the venue, resulting in detention by Spanish police. That led Hour of Penance to cancel the remaining dates on their European tour. And then the next day we reported the even more depressing news that vocalist Francesco Paoli had decided to leave the band as a result of the Alicante incident, and we posted his explanation.

Those two posts received an absolute flood of hits from across the interwebz — and it’s still happening a week later. We’re clearly not alone in being depressed over the disintegration of this amazingly good modern death-metal band, whose 2010 album Paradogma has been one of our favorite releases of the year to date. So, at the risk of appearing morbidly fixated on these depressing developments, we’re serving up some additional details today — including the possibility that reports of the band’s death may be premature.

The further details come from another blog entry by Francesco Paoli (whose other band, Fleshgod Apocalypse, has a new album (Mafia) due for release in the U.S. on June 8). In his latest message, Francesco tries to set the record straight with some clarifications. It turns out that he had made the decision to leave Hour of Penance before the incident in Alicante, in part because Mercurio’s college career was interfering with HOP’s ability to schedule live performances and in part because Francesco was finding it increasingly difficult to juggle his roles in two increasingly active bands at the same time.

Of course, Francesco had not planned to leave HOP as abruptly as he did — that was the result of what happened in Spain — but he says his friendship with HOP’s guitarist Giulio Moschini and bassist Silvano Leone remains strong (apparently not so strong with Mercurio), and that he will be “happy to cooperate” with them in the future if they decide to go forward with Hour of Penance.  We’re not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds like a willingness to be part of a re-formed HOP if Moschini and Leone replace Mercurio. He definitely won’t be easy to replace — the dude is an amazing drummer — but HOP may not be dead after all.

After the jump, we’ll show you Francesco’s latest post in its entirety. Continue reading »

May 132010

Yesterday, we reported the bad news about what happened to one of our favorite death-metal bands, Hour of Penance, at their show in Alicante, Spain not long ago. In a nutshell, the band’s drummer Mauro Mercurio was unable to play on stage (apparently due to being too fucked up) and had destroyed or damaged property at the venue, resulting in detention by Spanish police. And all of that led Hour of Penance to cancel the remaining dates on their European tour.

Well, the news just gets worse and worse. Today we saw a blog post by Francesco Paoli, the frontman for Hour of Penance. Correction — ex-frontman. And that’s the worse news: Francesco has announced that he has left Hour of Penance as a result of the incident in Alicante. We’re re-printing his blog post with the full explanation after the jump.

This is a truly fucked-up development. Earlier this year, Hour of Penance released their best album yet — Paradogma — one of our favorites of the year so far.  They looked like they were really hitting their stride and bound for even greater things. And now, virtually overnight, the band is disintegrating.

We’re not blaming Francesco for his decision. Read his blog post, and you’ll understand it. It’s just sad news for fans of Hour of Penance. The saving grace is that Francesco remains active in his other band, the ungodly good Fleshgod Apocalypse — and that band has completed a new album (Mafia) that will be released in the U.S. on June 8.

Now, continue on after the jump to see Francesco’s depressing blog post.

UPDATE: We’ve added a more recent post with additional details from Francesco that emerged after the statement you’ll see following the jump. Those further details suggest that Hour of Penance may not be dead after all and that Francesco was planning to leave the band even before the incident in Alicante. You can read all about it by following this link.

Continue reading »

May 122010

I guess this post is a bookend to the first one we put up today. It involves some sucky breaking news from Italian death-metal band Hour of Penance. Shit happens to all sorts of bands every day, and we usually don’t comment. But we really dig Hour of Penance — their new album Paradogma is one of our favorite releases of 2010 to date (see our review here) — and we know a lot of you dig the band, too.

So, here’s the story. Hour of Penance was on the tail end of a European tour, playing at a venue called “Coyote Ugly” in Alicante, Spain. Soon after taking the stage, it became apparent that the drummer Mauro Mercurio wasn’t able to play, and the band announced that it would have to cancel the set. Employees of the venue then began seizing the band’s equipment and other belongings, and the police were called in.

Turns out that before taking the stage, Mercurio had smashed a 50-inch flat-screen TV and done other unspecified damage to the venue. Mercurio was taken off to the police station and detained for 48 hours, at least in part because his ID had been taken by the venue’s employees. Eventually, all the band members were able to make it back home to Italy, but had to cancel the last 3 shows of the tour in Spain.

The band’s official statement on this incident, which we’ll reprint after the jump, refers to this as “what looks like to be our last tour with this line up.” Not good. Mauro Mercurio is one truly amazing drummer, but, reading between the lines, it appears he’s got a problem with intoxicants. We hope the dude is able to sort out his shit and get back on track. And we hope Hour of Penance can rebuild and move forward.  The band’s official statement, with more details about this incident, follows after the jump.

UPDATE: The news has gotten worse.  We’ve just learned that as a result of the incident in Alicante, Hour of Penance vocalist Francesco Paoli has left the band. You can read about those depressing details at this location.

FURTHER UPDATE: We’ve added an even more recent post with further details from Francesco, including the suggestion that Hour of Penance may not be dead after all. Check it out by following this link.

Continue reading »

Apr 042010

Rome’s Hour of Penance have just released their fourth album. Entitled Paradogma, it’s a worthy follow-up to this collective’s widely praised third offering, The Vile Conception.

The band’s modus operandi on Paradogma is straight-forward, but no less compelling for its simplicity: Play blackened death metal, play it really fast, and make the music vicious. Which is not to say that the album falls prey to monotony — far from it. The songs most assuredly do not all sound alike. They are creatively structured to feed your need for brutality while striking that primordial chord in your brain stem that makes you want to jump and move.

Paradogma swallows you up in a miasma of dark fury that seethes in its intensity, yet infects you with hooks and melodies that will cause the songs to re-play in your head long after the music stops. It’s simply one of the best modern death-metal albums we’ve heard so far this year.  (read on after the jump, and hear a massively infectious track from the album . . .) Continue reading »