A few years back I couldn’t be bothered with all that Tech nonsense. Truth be told a lot of it still washes over me now, especially when we’re talking about artists like Tesseract and Periphery. It’s like I enjoy it, but some people go mad for it. That said I’ve recently become a lot more of a Prog fan so each to their own I guess. Yet strangely enough I’ve always felt a bit of a connection to Technical Death Metal. I remember first hearing Dying Fetus, Braindrill, Cynic and Atheist and just thinking it was a best stuff. Now the scene is swarming with artists, some good, some bad.

On the better side of the Tech coin as it were are Italian Tech Death heavyweights Hour Of Penance. Formed in 1999 the band have a good wealth of history behind them and often tend to mix a solid amount of Brutal Death into their song-writing. This for me has always been a winner and indeed for many fans who have seen this band rise to glory. The bands 2003 debut Disturbance is highly praised along with 2008’s The Vile Conception and 2014’s Regicide. Truth be told this band seldom falter, and now we come to their eighth full length, Misotheism. The album is released through the rising seal of approval that is Agonia Records.

The album begins with a fairly atmospheric, brooding introduction in Mass Crucifixion Of Kings. It is a stirring start that is warranted for a band of this calibre, a common offence to me that in cases such as this I can forgive. Then in we go to the maniacal Blight And Conquer with its admirable somewhat underlying Tech that weaves amid frantic drums and somewhat atypical early Brutal Death vocals. Fallen From Ivory Towers gives us a little more Tech but it’s merely a tease and I think a testament to why the band are so successful. Their brand of Tech has never been too overbearing for the average Death Metal fan making them a favourite among many. By the time we reach Lamb Of The Seven Sins I become both impressed and equally a little tired. I’ve always enjoyed the sort of slight Tech approach but hearing so many amazing artists out there now I’m just underwhelmed to the point where I would pretty much just call Hour Of Penance Brutal Death Metal as oppose to any real form of Tech.

I wouldn’t want to put down the musicianship of this record though for it is very impressive and whilst not as insane as other artists it is extremely well written. Some tracks such as Flames Of The Merciless even appear to inject an air of Black Metal about them, namely through the speedy riffs that add a level of atmosphere akin to perhaps Behemoth’s The Satanist. I’m absolutely behind Hour Of Penance and everything they do but I think I’ve now come to expect more from bands like this. Thankfully Iudex brings back some more of this epic Blackened riffs that just work so well throughout the record. Then the album closes with Occult Den Of Snakes which is a similar Blackened affair and one with a good sense of arena-like sound, possibly one of the better songs on the release.

The main issue within this kind of Brutal Death is that it’s not any sort of extreme. It’s too fast and old school to be deemed Slam and not insane enough to be real Technical Death Metal. Granted there is absolutely no way I could even begin to fathom how one goes about playing music to a standard such as this and if I saw Hours or a similar band live I’d no doubt be very impressed. Yet all this aside I’ve always said that I don’t really do things by halves, if you’re going to be Tech then be the craziest you can possibly muster. Then again that’s just me, for the average Death Metal fan I can see this being a winner and indeed for all my comments I’ve still enjoyed the record, I’m just not sure I’ll be rushing back to it anytime soon.

(7/10 George Caley)