HYPOCRISY – Worship
Like spiderpig without Homer Simpson, Hypocrisy cannot move without its founder, the multiple genre record producer (The Abyss studio), the single guitarist, keyboardist and (since 1994) vocalist Alf (Alien Life Form?) Peter "Mayor of Pärlby" (due to owning the small village of 120 people in which he resides) Tägtgren , even when taking into account the notable songwriting contribution from almost founding bassist Mikael Hedlund (1992-present) and drummer Lars Laszlo Szöke (1992-2004). Born in Sweden, upon the fresh split up of his first band Conquest, in 1988, Tägtgren emigrated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for three years to get his bearings with the local death metal scene and Malevolent Creation’s founding guitarist Phil Fasciana and where he formed a solo project Seditious renamed Hypocrisy after his 1991 return to Sweden. The first two albums, "Penetralia"¹⁹⁹² and "Osculum Obscenum"¹⁹⁹³, lyrically and graphically overshadowed by the then vocalist Carl Magnus "Emperor Magus Caligula" "Masse" Broberg (later frontman of the Satanic black metal coven Dark Funeral) were serviceable musically but not particularly innovative but once Tägtgren took over the mike and the pen, Hypocrisy started to sound interesting, lyrically slightly easing up on Satanism in exchange for some well-deserved criticism of Christianity on one hand, and promoting alien abduction/government coverup conspiracy theories straight from the "X-files" on "The Fourth Dimension"¹⁹⁹⁴ and, especially, on the much better produced "Abducted"¹⁹⁹⁶, musically clearly inspired by Paradise Lost (Reincarnation) and Pink Floyd (Slippin’ Away) in addition to its inherent Malevolent Creationism while showing itself to be a new formidable player in the thriving Scandinavian melodeath scene, but it was the prophetically or purposely named "The Final Chapter"¹⁹⁹⁷ (intended to be Hypocrisy’s final album) that had made them the cream of the crop while providing a serious competition to In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Arch Enemy and the like melodeathsters upon the release of which they quietly broke up (Tägtgren forming the industrial metal one-man act Pain) only to return with the severely melodic and, again, appropriately named "Hypocrisy"¹⁹⁹⁹ followed barely a year later by severely brutal "Into The Abyss"²⁰⁰⁰, both albums excellent in their own right but hardly able to prepare the dazed and confused fans for the nu metal "Catch 22"²⁰⁰² with severely introspective lyrics. "When you think I’m on the top I reverse and tell you all to f@#k off" wrote Tägtgren in "Destroyed" as if to anticipate an incoming fan backlash but it seems he wasn’t completely satisfied with the sound because Hypocrisy would re-record, remix and remaster the album 6 years later, after the return-to-form "The Arrival"²⁰⁰⁴ and then, likely inspired by Tägtgren’s brief vocal adventure with Bloodbath ("Nightmare Made Flesh"²⁰⁰⁴), double aggressive "Virus"²⁰⁰⁵ right after drummer Lars Szöke had left replaced by Immortal’s drummer Reidar "Horgh" Horghagen. Horgh’s addition contributed to blackening Hypocrisy which persisted on the phenomenal favorite "A Taste Of Extreme Divinity"²⁰⁰⁹, an album I gave a glowing 6/6 review at the time in the now defunct Imhotep zine, an opinion I sustain to date. Both "Virus" and "Divinity" presented Hypocrisy in the best shape of their career, firing death metal and melody at all cilinders like it was 1997 which is why "End Of Disclosure"²⁰¹³ was such a crushing disappointment to me, with less death metal and more midpaced aggression akin to the eponymous or "The Arrival" yet, sadly, this time, the riffs and melodies somehow sounded less inspiring, less fresh. The concept was exciting but it needed a great soundtrack to match it, but for that we would have to wait 8 years, almost certainly because Tägtgren’s head was empty and he needed a break and he had to be hungry again to breathe and create according to the title track of Pain’s painfully mediocre "Coming Home"²⁰¹⁶ album.
For those of us who observe, think and draw conclusions it is clear that "Hypocrisy", "Catch 22"and "End Of Disclosure" were signposts. As Hypocrisy gained popularity (or notariety) Tägtgren gradually was phasing out the silly Satanic musings of pleasures of molestation, necrophags and satanic legions decimating Earth increasingly replacing them with confessions of the demonized and then progressing through alien abductions occasionally narrating demonic activity increasingly present in the very human nature expressed through various forms of conscious and unconscious religion. "My own soul is my enemy" he would write on "All Turns Black". Convinced that demons and aliens were one and the same and that they were aided by the corrupted world governments (an astonishingly Biblically accurate view for such a critic of the Holy Writ but don’t look so surprised as if you’ve just found out that Deicide’s front madman Glen Benton was actually a devout Christian all his life) Tägtgren significantly forsook the infernal maledictions (unless you count the apologetic "Hell Is Where I Stay") and dedicated his pen to exposing the truth about our human (?) masters, the 1% of the world populace, the "self-made" millionaires turned billionaires soon to become trillionaires (while the rest of us wonder where our next meal is coming from), the multinational corporations (the true People according to our courts) who have succesfully avoided fair and just taxation for over 40 years under right-wing, left-wing and so called, libertarian world governments while drawing subsidies through these governments who raise only our taxes so they can all line up to take trips to outer space on our tab, ourselves not invited along. Worse yet, the wretched scum of the earth are still waiting for rebirth, a relief from this labor but they need a slave to do the work and when you want an answer they will use you ’til you die, brainwash and convince you that you will end up in Paradise more than they did at the time of "Mind Corruption" except none of them trust the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ’s ministry and resurrection anymore, preferring, instead, to put their trust in some of the worst world leaders since Benito Mussolini, which is why even fewer on the outside of the Church believe than when Tägtgren first spoke "since I was a child I saw it my own way: who is god and who is not" in his "Apocalypse". Meanwhile, our respective governments, instead of doing the job for which they were elected, protecting us from both threats, they cooperate for the common goal of keeping us poor, heavily sedated and heavily divided from each other a goal which the gods-sent global viral pandemic only helps to facilitate.
On "Worship", the gospel according to Peter Tägtgren is so horrifying that the opening title track is still kept fairly in the realm of fantasy, basically a "what you see is what you get" narrative to the fabulous album cover, starting in a similar way as Metallica’s "Battery" (perhaps on purpose) which opened "Master Of Puppets"¹⁹⁸⁶, a cousin of "Valley Of The Damned" and "Born Dead, Buried Alive" for one of the most classic-Hypocrisy sounding tracks in years. Do you take pills to offset other pills taken to cope with frightening reality and worsening frequent physical ills, like I do? Then the pilot video single, an ode to the evil pharmaceutical industry, "Chemical Whore", reminiscent of "Resurrected", which Tägtgren likens to "Fractured Millenium" and "Eraser" and which is the only track written by all three Hypocrisy members, is about you. Don’t get mad, though, because pity is better than scorn leveled at "Greedy Bastards" in a manner reminiscent of "Slave To The Parasites" or "Hang Him High" (Hedlund rocks!) as you realize that the gods-sent viral pandemic only helps to facilitate the new world order, something more explored via "The Dead World", the first track I heard from the album and the second video single, a nu metallish deathcore (yes, think "Catch 22") juggernaut Tägtgren’s son, Sebastian, had written. In Tägtgren’s own words, "while the song comes equipped with a modern feel, the writing is still old fashioned at its core", and, actually, though I’d initially hated it, I have come to agree with it after a few applications since it has great death metal riffs recalling "Taste The Extreme Divinity" which help make it a bridge between the old and new. Old and new is, too, right about the crushing severely Morbid Angelic "Brotherhood Of The Serpent" on Gojirian verses with a melodic chorus, something between "Warpath" and "Let The Knife Do The Talking" and the old school "Another Day" akin to "Adjusting The Sun" and "Apocalyptic Hybrid", but what would an excellent Hypocrisy album be without those doomish ballad-like dirges? Here we’re in for a treat with three of them strategically positioned to offset the carnage, as on the "The Final Chapter", the self-titled or "Into The Abyss". However, neither "We’re The Walking Dead", with Hedlund’s fitting throbbing "walking" bass, its tearfull tone and funeral melody recalling "A Thousand Lies" or "The Quest" and keyboard atmospherics and melody in verse reminiscent of "Until The End", nor "Children Of The Gray", somewhere between (clearly) "Elastic Inverted Visions" and "Fire In The Sky" are genuine ballads, that is, they have the characteristics but are multipaced and multiflavored unlike the atmospheric full on ballad "Bug In The Net" with the kind of epicness of "The Fourth Dimension", "Inquire Within" or "The Abyss", complete with samples of the abducted, but most akin to Dimmu Borgir’s "Entrance" from the Tägtgren-produced "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant"¹⁹⁹⁷. The midpaced old-schoolers, the very "Abducted", "Solar Empire" and (literally quoted) "Sky Is Falling Down" sounding, "They Will Arrive", and the In Flamesian "Gods Of The Underground" help round things up, and all with not an ounce of clean tone in Peter’s blackened death metal growls (except for some background cleans in "Children Of The Gray") which have a similar quality to Immolation’s Ross Dolan’s: there are both very powerful yet entirely legible while perfectly matched with the music giving occassionally an illusion of cleans, a very important aspect of "Worship" which both provides the bacground for the music and creates the unnerving climate of total desolation felt through every track, especially with one of the best productions Tägtgren ever graced any album with.
"Another Day" is given to realize "We’re The Walking Dead" programmed to give in to the "Children Of The Gray" when all the hope is gone, because you’re nothing but a "Bug In The Net" a "Chemical Whore", so you can fight all you want but if you make too much noise in "The Dead World", about "Greedy Bastards", "Brotherhood Of The Snake" and "Gods Of The Underground" "They Will Arrive" and make you disappear. The 1999 Tägtgren warned you in "Until The End" that there’s no end for your pain, just as long as you fight it, it is all just a game to see how long you can take it. All you can do is turn on "Worship" and wait for the incoming "Apocalypse". Will you?