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I have a quick confession to make: my interest in post-90’s thrash metal is basically non-existent. That’s not to say that certain bands can’t play thrash metal properly, nor does it mean that the passion isn’t there… but generally, I’m fine with thrash metal records that came out quite some time ago.
With that out of the way, one might wonder if Hypnosia are that much of an extraordinary band. Quick answer: they’re not, because all their ingredients can be traced back to earlier records. Raspy vocals bring to mind Mille Petroza at his angriest. Massive drums bring to mind the same experience that I recall from Demolition Hammer’s Epidemic of Violence. Of course, the guitars is what it’s at and the guitarists have clearly paid attention to thrash metal’s brutal side; studied the most effective riffs of plenty and used that to their own advantage.
By now you should be able to tell that Extreme Hatred is more about thrashing with conviction than originality and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hypnosia came up with the album’s title within a minute, but at least it lives up to its name (something that can’t be said about, say, Extreme Aggression). Here’s the thing: sometimes you’re just not after originality and that’s a good thing. While we’ve been bombed by retro thrash metal bands that simply pay tribute to one band (think of Besieged aping early Sepultura, or Deathraiser with their love for the Kreator of old), those bands get extremely boring quickly. Hypnosia are different; it helps that they’ve been influenced by a variety of bands to begin with and they also know how to execute their ideas with fine results. Granted, I’m convinced that there’s a thin line between your faceless retro thrash metal band and the one that proudly embraces their musical heroes of old, but Hypnosia clearly fall in the latter category.
Unleashing nostalgic and violent riff after riff, Hypnosia’s intentions become clear right from the start. The title track introduces Mikael Castervall’s angry snarls, before some pulverizing riffs appear left and right – as if the 90’s and every negative trend associated with it had never happened. The break works excellent; hinting Hypnosia’s subtle taste of melody, yet the song retains its velocity and demonstrates that these guys have thrash for breakfast, lunch and dinner. ‘Circle of the Flesh’ demolishes like a hammer; only to reach breakneck-speed territories with a frantic speedy delivery in the vein of Pleasure to Kill. In other words: it’s brute thrash that will knock your socks off. ‘The Last Remains’ instantly sounds like a throwback to Beneath the Remains, if only you had replaced Max Cavalera’s unconvincing bark with the bloodthirsty rasps of Mille Petroza. It’s arguably the most referential track on the record; but with hot riffs that allow each section to unfold with fire and fury, it’s a mosh-worthy experience worth losing yourself in. ‘Act of Lunacy’ is another summoning of the past; with a thundering riff opening that could have appeared on Darkness Descends, it’s a relentless thrasher that has capacity to set bushes on fire with its riffing inferno.
So far so good, but somewhere in the middle, an unexpected instrumental track appears to catch your breath. ‘Gates of Cirith Ungol’ is a total departure of the maniac thrashing affair. With ordinary palm-muted guitar patterns that cause no emotional reaction by any means, sped up sections that lack action and airy guitar leads that contribute to practically nothing, the result is something along the line of the early Metallica instrumentals (which were already hit or miss to begin with) and the track ends up missing its mark completely.
Some mistakes are best not made again and fortunately, Hypnosia understands this. ‘Hang ‘Em High’ marks a return to a thrash fan’s violent fantasies. It’s a brutal assault of tensed riffs that get pretty close to madness of Reign in Blood, while the vocalist remains as pissed off as ever and all that under two minutes! To close off with, ‘Traumatic Suffering’ is the longest cut on the album and despite its unexpected break and brief chugging section, it’s another dangerous collaboration between the angry vocal wails and flexible spiking riffs; making it fun to mosh or to bang your head to (I’d refrain from doing both simultaneously, however).
For a band that appeared after the style’s peak years, Hypnosia are as good as they get and yet, I can’t help but wonder; could there have been a superior follow-up to Extreme Hatred, or had the band given everything they’ve got at this point? Would Hypnosia be better off, if only they had appeared around ten years later? Who knows – at least I can say that Extreme Hatred delivers and that’s all that matters in the end.
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