Solid and Straight-Forward Brutality
Hour of Penance can attribute much of their success in the extreme metal scene to their no-holds-barred approach to death metal. For almost 15 years, the band has been pushing out new releases almost every two years, each one an uncompromising display of brutal death metal.
Though their sound might be categorized as run-of-the-mill, there is a reason why extreme metal fans find themselves drawn to it. Hour of Penance is driven by a strong set of musical influences. The two major elements that add to their strengths are their brutal, technical-driven riffs (reminiscent of Fischer-era Cannibal Corpse), and their use of nightmarish black-metal-inspired melodies. Though unlike a lot of technical bands, Hour of Penance make sure the focus is always on the brutality of the music, and not on the fancy finger-work. It gives them a down-to-earth, organic feel that lacks any ego or unnecessary flair.
Their newest release, Cast the First Stone, is, well, nothing new. But it doesn’t need to be. For death metal fans, it’s a winning formula. The music is hard and heavy, and has a deep rumble that comes all the way from the bowels of hell. Each track comes in like a stampede, barreling in so fast and with such precision that it is easy to get left behind. It isn’t music that leaves a whole lot of breathing room, and it definitely isn’t for the faint of heart; but for those who crave that level of musical insanity, it will be a treat. Hour of Penance have a solid understanding of the genre and are more than competent composers.
The only real issue with the band is that sometimes the Cannibal Corpse influence comes on a little too strong, to the point where it begins to sound derivative. Songs like “Burning Bright,” “The Chains of Misdeed” and “Horn of Flies” all sound like they could have come straight off a recent Corpse record. It’s not a terrible thing – Cannibal Corpse’s music has served as a major foundation for brutal death metal – but it definitely feels like it holds Hour of Penance back from reaching their full potential. Honing and developing some aspects of their overall sound might differentiate them from the crowd a little more.
All in all though, Cast the First Stone is a fun listen, and serves as a great, adrenaline-fueled brutality-fest that won’t disappoint fans of the genre. The album makes for another solid entry into their ever-growing catalog.