Carnivorous in sound and intent yet seductively twisted inside through psyche bred invention and enterprise, Epilogue Of Masquerade from Italian death metallers Hateful is a brutal temptation which offers much more than its surface corrosiveness suggests. It is an album which old school genre fans may find too intensively inventive and unpredictable but those with the hunger for something different and adventurous, this album easily fits the order.
Formed in 1997 by Daniele Lupidi (bass, vocals, rhythm guitar), Hateful took their inspirations from old school European death and doom metal, and becoming a serious proposition with the addition of the likes of Matteo Manfredini (vocals) and Marcello Malagoli (drums) alongside Lupidi. Many line-up changes occurred across the subsequent years to leave instability in the band though they still recorded in 2000 the well-received After the Last Breath MCD which gave them a strong presence in the underground scene. Further changes followed in personnel to slow the band as well as another fan acclaimed release in a split with Hellspawn and Impureza in 2006. Now a duo of Lupidi and Malagoli, the pair started to record debut album Coils Of a Consumed Paradise which was unleashed in 2010 alongside impressive line performances and a stable line-up with Massimo Vezzani (lead and rhythm guitars) alongside the pair. Released via The Spew Records, Epilogue Of Masquerade is the second full length release from the band and trio, and an album which could and should see Hateful find the recognition they have sought and deserved.
Artifacts of the Damned starts things off with an initially drifting but closing in sonic twister of teasing temptation. As it is seemingly departing the track explodes into a ravaging onslaught of bone crushing rhythmic provocation and corrosive riffing, all ridden by dark guttural vocal squalls. It is a heinous encounter, a debilitating tempest which as potently as it chews upon the senses ignites the imagination, especially with the jagged edge to the riffs and psychotic nature of the stance of the song. Continually twisting in on itself and the senses, the track is a monstrous piece of inventive violence, a bestial tsunami of intensity setting the release off to a staggering start.
Corrupting the Veils That Keeps the Mind Sane soon stakes its presence in the ear with another drum led entrapment, guitars and bass gnawing away at the damage with technical hostility and predatory energy. As with the first, it whips through multiple turns of imagination and enterprise leaving the listener almost bewildered but seduced by the sonic and rhythmic rapacity. As dramatic and ravenous as its predecessor the track leaves another impressive lingering mark soon matched by the equally riveting and devastating violations of A Despicable Harvest and It Once Was Light.
Such the intensity and possibly the unrelenting quick shifting of ideas there is an abrasive and raw feel to the tracks which may find distrust with some but it just adds to the creative and raptorial defilement of the senses, as the excellent likes of Breathing the Whirlwind, the groove spiralling maelstrom Stillbirth, and the insidiously venomous Celestial Purification strikingly show.
Across the album the trio leave no part of the senses and emotions unchallenged, their undeniable craft and invention honed into a synapse scything aural toxicity which inspires the strongest satisfaction and rapture. It may not be for everyone but as songs like the savage Ravenous and the sonically predacious Walking Into a Nightmare unveil their aural mercury it is impossible to avoid being seared by the sonic animosity, and if in league with their ruinous imagination being reduced to lustful ardour.
Epilogue Of Masquerade is an outstanding album which for a great many will be a one of the major highlight of the year and for all extreme metal fans a release to leave deeply gripping claws in their thoughts.
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