Album Title: Worship
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of Release: 26 November 2021
I have known about Hypocrisy ever since I clapped my ears on their ’10 Years Of Chaos And Confusion’ ‘best of’ release back in 2001. At the time, I was entranced by the slower, more melodic and atmospheric tracks that appeared, like the sublime ‘Death Row (No Regrets)’ or ‘Until The End’. They remain favourites but also acted as a steppingstone into their more caustic, brutal death metal fare that was always arguably a bigger part of the Hypocrisy approach.
Fast forward 20 years and here I am reviewing my first ever Hypocrisy album. You see, despite enjoying much of their output over the years, something held me back from really falling under their spell. I have listened to each record since then, but they never truly ignited my fire. I am a big fan of Peter Tägtgren the person, the producer, and the musician – to have such longevity and high standing in the metal community means that he must be great at what he does – but Hypocrisy, the band, have never achieved what I guess I hoped or expected they would. On the 30th anniversary of their formation, they remain stalwarts of the underground. Yes, they command a loyal following the world over, but they’ve never broken through to be the headline band on a big bill. Maybe that’s the point, maybe the band never wanted that. But it still seems like a lost opportunity that they are not more highly regarded overall.
And now we have ‘Worship’, the Swede’s fourteenth album and you know what? This might be my favourite album they’ve ever recorded. At least for a very long time in any case. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I checked this out, out of a sense of duty more than anything. But it’s really very good indeed. It doesn’t push the Hypocrisy sound too far out of their normal zone of comfort especially, so you will know exactly what to expect. But there’s something about ‘Worship’ that’s pulling me back for repeated listens more often than I thought might be the case.
If I’m being totally honest, my favourite tracks on ‘Worship’ tend to be those that are slower, more melodic, and more atmospheric; there’s something about these compositions that makes them stand out, just like they did two decades ago when I discovered them. The first of these on ‘Worship’ is entitled ‘Chemical Whore’ and, in keeping with the Hypocrisy way, it is a giant monster of a track that features some delightful melodies in and around a stomping slow-mid tempo. And it’s all wrapped up in a dense, dark atmospheric cloak. It’s also nice to hear that the distrust of the establishment remains within the lyrics, as well as the healthy interest in conspiracy theories, the occult and the paranormal. In the case of ‘Chemical Whore’, it’s a song focused upon the giant pharmaceutical industry for example, from a less than positive perspective.
‘We’re The Walking Dead’ is another instantly catchy track, thick with that familiar dry but chunky, resonant guitar tone that Hypocrisy do so well. Quasi-choral synths, at the hands of Tägtgren, bathe the track from head to toe is more of that dark atmosphere, but it’s the melodic work that catches my ear the most. Tägtgren has lost none of his vocal powers either, as he growls menacingly for the most part throughout this track, occasionally letting go with a maniacal scream in places.
I love ‘Children Of The Gray’ as well, from its gentle yet foreboding intro, to the ensuing resonating notes, to the groove-laden chug of the central riffs, and then finally to the melodically-charged chorus, one that grows stronger with each passing listen. When Hypocrisy sounds like this, what’s not to like? I’d have liked a little bit more of Tägtgren’s cleaner tones, but I’m perhaps just being a pedant.
Alongside the slower, more melodic tracks, it’s also fair to say that there is a decent amount of variety on offer here, most of a high quality, not to mention with a fair bit of heaviness and aggression too. ‘Brotherhood Of The Serpent’ is verging on all-out brutal death metal not dissimilar to Morbid Angel in places, thanks to an incessant double-pedal drum barrage from Reidar “Horgh” Horghagen, a gurgling bass from Mikael Hedlund that rocks the foundations, and bruising riffs that churn mercilessly. As is the Hypocrisy way, there’s a hint of accessibility through well-placed subtle melody, but this does not detract at all from the overall heaviness.
Then there’s the more furious-paced ‘Another Day’ that provides more of a short, sharp thrash-infused offering, laced with a powerful central groove. That same furious pace continues at the outset of ‘They Will Arrive’, ensuring that the album ends in robust fashion, rather than limping to a conclusion. It is, in fact, one of the strongest songs, benefitting from some ear-catching lead guitar lines and a rather imperious, almost majestic air.
It is fair to say that ‘Worship’ won’t suddenly propel Hypocrisy to stratospheric heights – if that was to be the case, it would’ve likely happened by now. What ‘Worship’ does do, however, is make me reconsider exactly what I think about the band in a positive manner. If it does that for me, hopefully it’ll have the same effect on others too, thus breathing new life into the veteran extreme metal band. If you’re hoping for a good Hypocrisy album, ‘Worship’ delivers. If you’re looking for a great slice of melodically tinged death metal, ‘Worship’ delivers. If you want to be entertained, ‘Worship’ delivers.
The Score of Much Metal: 90%
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: