HysteriaFormed near the French Alps in the region near Lyon back in 1996 and still with their original line up 20 years on, French Death Metal four-piece Hysteria are set to release their third full length album “Flesh, Humiliation and Irreligious Deviance” ten years after they released their debut offering. With lyrical themes centred around chaos, suffering and desolation, backed up by some brutal and melodic death metal, this promises to be an extremely heavy release. Let us see just how deviant it is.

“In Belief, Into Nothingness…” opens the album. It’s an instrumental intro so I won’t do my usual spiel related to that. Ominous sounding, heavy as hell and with an eerie melody, it sets the scene and the haunting vocal samples hidden in the layers add a real unnerving edge to it. Melodic but sinister, it builds the atmosphere well with a steady pace and you know what follows on is going to be intense… And it is. Exploding from the subtle fadeout, “Sadistic Deviance” is a full on assault of furiously paced and delivered riffs and blast beats. Brutal in their execution and sound, this intense number demands headbanging almost instantly and you cannot help but feel compelled to oblige. The raw growled vocals hit hard and the musicianship behind is sublime. So precise and in sync, the thunderous drums and bass, combined with the urgent and crushing riffs of the guitar make for an unholy combination. Towards the end, the vocal variation adds a good touch, going from distressed screams to the low growl works a treat and adds to the overall feel. A powerful opening assault.

It doesn’t stop there. With the sinister building intro of “Visceral Torments”, sounding very familiar to Tombs in some places, it keeps the intense atmosphere up, holding you in suspense before it finally kicks in. With a slightly black metal feel to the delivery in that grand way, much akin to that of Emperor, it blasts forwards. Gratuitous double kick, furious rhythms and a repetitive, penetrating high melodic lead really stand out and the growls of the vocalists are well placed, keeping the seething venom in the delivery of the overall track up. “Heiress Of Disease” cranks the intensity and build phenomenally with its intro. Buzzing guitars, pounding, machine gun burst like war drums and plenty of ominous atmosphere about it, the sinister edge to the crushing death metal onslaught is fantastic. Much like a mixture of Kataklysm, Aborted and Psycroptic, it really hits hard, heavy on technical and evil groove. Guttural vocals and relentless drums make the track what it is. Precise rhythmic and lead assaults from the guitar and bass round the track out and whilst the stringed work is impressive with some slight forays into the Emperor like style of musical assault vocally and musically, it’s all on the drums for this one!

“O Father” has a slow and steady build up in the intro. Melodic initially, it descends into a furious, pounding and burst-styled groove before going back to the melodic delivery. Vocally, it has some clean shouts but the majority is the low growled vocals. With an intricate lead melody coursing through it, adding an edge to the pounding rhythm sound, it’s a strange track but it works quite well. Once again, the drums are the stand out feature as they thunder throughout the track. Retaining that slight epic touch of black metal in parts but staying predominantly death metal, it does have an interesting edge, perhaps this is why it seems strange, but when it takes over for the punishing riff assault and intricate and flashy lead section, it is undoubtedly death metal through and through. “Succubus Offering” has a similar sound to the previous track with its pounding rhythm with that slight burst feel and the dramatic pseudo-black melodic lead riffs it pretty much mirrors what has just preceded it which is a shame given the initial variety in the album so far.

“The Unhealthy Signature: Haunted By Worlds Of Gods Part II” retains the black-death styled approach, leaning more to the vocals and atmospheric nature of black metal whilst musically hitting hard with the death metal. Gratuitous double kick, ominous sounding lead melodies padding out the track and a real deep bassline, it has a real absorbing feel to it but the intrigue which initially came from this band in the earlier parts of the album has grown slightly stale. The musical delivery is spot on, don’t get me wrong, the precision, timing, phrasing and sound works great, but it’s just a bit bland by this point now. “Hérésie” comes next, starting with a heavily distorted sample and unsettling ambience it has the build for a good track until you realise it is just an instrumental filler which straight away draws a sigh from me. Thankfully “Demons From The Past” comes back with the brutal musical onslaught, opening up with a sinister and grandiose sounding intro, laden with blast beats and furiously buzzing guitars. Having that slight black metal edge but feeling more death metal, it gets the pace back but ultimately, its similar to what has preceded it, there aren’t any surprises but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. “Flesh Messiah” is a pounding, groove laden death metal track which brings us back to the feel from the start of the album, getting the interest, bringing back the need and want for headbanging to the pounding feel of it, a good way to reel it back in before the final track.

“Blasphemous Writings (Final Part)” has a very symphonic edge to it initially with a subtle string layer backing up the pounding rhythm and intricate riff melody, giving it an extra dimension to the sound and overall, increasing the urge to listen for the final run. Constantly building throughout, the symphonic melody underpinning it really dictates the feel of the track and it is hard to not get caught up in the epic feel it creates, a real solid end to what is a solid album despite a lacklustre middle section.

Overall, if you took the first four tracks and the last two, this would be a stunning, full on, intense death metal album from the off, ripe with relentless blasts, harsh guitars and serious heaviness, but it’s the middle what lets it down. The pseudo-black metal feel does change it up a little, but it lacks that spark to make it truly stand out, overall turning what could have been a solid eight into just about scraping a seven… Still, you cannot fault the ability of the musicians, it is as they say these days… On Point.

(7/10 Fraggle)