I’ll admit that while Osculum Obscenum and The Fourth Dimension are two of my favorite death metal albums ever, everything past The Fourth Dimension never really impressed my despite the widespread acclaim of albums like Abducted and The Final Chapter. The final nail in the coffin for me was the god awful Catch 22 and although The Arrival made amends somewhat, I pretty much had wrote Tägtgren off.

Until Now.

With Immortal’s Horgh replacing long time drummer Lars Szöke and the addition of second guitarist Andreas Holma Virus is a complete return to form, sounding like The Fourth Dimension mixed with their recent sci-fi melodics and the added polish of 12 years of practice. Maybe Tägtgren’s time in Bloodbath sparked a flame, as his voice is meaner and leaner and the material is more intense, heck even the artwork is more intense. Just go straight to tracks five and six, “Craving for Another Killing” and “Let the Knife Do the Talking” to validate the band’s reinvigorated, menacing death metal snarl.

On your way to those stellar (definitely Bloodbath inspired) tracks, be sure to check out the album opening bitch slap of “Warpath”- a blazing melodic death metal track that has a hearty “We’re fucking back” feel to it. “Scrutinized” is a more tempered mix of Hypocrisy’s latter sci-fi gait and their early crunch, while “Fearless” and “Thousand Lies are the requisite slow, atmospheric numbers but sound more like “The Fourth Dimension” or “Apocalypse” rather than “Request Denied”. The lumbering “Incised Before I’ve Ceased” while arguably the albums weakest track, still destroys anything from the last two albums and is essentially wiped out by the blast beat laden, sheer force of “Blood Drenched”; more Bloodbath influenced savagery. “Compulsive Psychosis” is the most modern sounding track on the album, while the now expected epic, atmospheric album closer “Living to Die” with clean vocals and a larger synth presence wraps things nicely with a familiar feel even if it’s a slightly underwhelming climax to a pretty balls out album.

As you can tell from the song titles, the Government cover-up, Sci-fi theme has been lessened in favor of more visceral death metal topics but Tägtgren’s production is incredible and still has that futuristic bite to it without relying on keyboards or lyrics to give everything a chromatic sheen.

Virus is easily Hypocrisy’s best album in the last decade; it’s an robust yet intelligently scathing death metal triumph that shows Tägtgren has some fuel left in the tank yet.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 11th, 2005


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