She claims she saw an Alien Once… whoopee fuckin doo…. Asa reviews the new EP by Romes Hideous Divinity
Hideous Divinity have garnered quite the reputation within the Death Metal circle over the last decade. Formed in 2006 in Rome, Italy (in case you somehow forgot where Rome is), they didn’t really start finding their footing until 2012. But that’s jumping ahead slightly. The band was formed by Enrico Schettino in late 2006 after parting ways with one of Italy’s most well-known Metal exports, Hour Of Penance (who Schettino was a founding member of). At the end of 2007, they released a 2-track demo called ‘Sinful Star Necrolatry’ but then after that… Nothing. Until 2012 that is, when they released their incredible debut album, ‘Obeisance Rising’. Since then, there have been multiple line-up changes and 3 more albums (‘Cobra Verde’ in 2014, ‘Adveniens’ in 2017 and ‘Simulacrum’ in 2019), but all you need to know is that Schettino is still art the heart of the band, alongside Enrico Di Lorenzo on Vocals (since 2010), Giulio Galati on Drums (since 2012), Stefano Franceschini on Bass (since 2013, also a member of Belgian Death bruisers Aborted since 2016) and their most recent addition, Riccardo Benedini on Guitars (since 2019). Now they’re here, in 2021, with a 3-track E.P entitled ‘LV-426’. What is LV-426, you ask? Well for any Alien fans out there, you may know it better as Acheron, the moon where the Xenomorph eggs are discovered in Alien, and where the bulk of the action in Aliens takes place. So, dizzying, brutal technical Death Metal? Check. Aliens? Also check. Good music? Let’s take a listen…
A moody, dark and atmospheric intro ominously builds, lending a sense of dread and excitement for what’s to come, until ‘Acheron, Stream Of Woe’ explodes with ferocious intensity. Tremolo picked riffs with a technical flair and an edge of melodicism, guttural bellows and manic blast beats hit fast, and hit hard. The verse is slow and crushing with some dissonant melodies, evoking a feeling of uncertainty, with pummeling double bass drum foot work keeping the aggression going. The song weaves and spins new riffs with abundance, varying in their ideas but ultimately as destructive as a black hole expanding. When the song slows down, you’re met with atmosphere as thick as the one that can be found on the surface of Acheron. There’s always this feeling that something is off, an impending sense of doom. It contrasts excellently with the chaotic nature of the faster, technical flourishes and showcases an incredible grasp on effective songwriting. The section beginning at the 3:50 mark is an excellent example of what I’m talking about. These sections are often layered with different melodies and atmospherics that all tie neatly together, the level of detail put into these songs to create the ultimate listening experience is something to admire. The solo at 4:45 is brilliant stuff, showing how technical shred work can still be beautifully melodic and chaotically intense at the same time. The song ends with a fury of savage riffs to wreck your neck to, with blasts aplenty, before making way into eerie synths that slowly fade out. It’s a nice touch that is also slightly terrifying.
‘Chestburst’ fades us back in before erupting into fierce Black Metal tinged technical riffage. A short Bass passage (from now on known as a Bassage) leads into a maddening verse that is layered with complexity and dissonance. A few more Bassages forewarn of the insane, off-the-wall riff that’s about to come, and is heavenly to hear for Bass nerds like me. Chords of dread smother us with its blackened essence, coming to an abrupt halt as the intensity, and speed, is kicked into high gear once again. The whole song oozes unhinged and deranged, with the solo at the 2 minute mark being no different. It may start slow but as it goes on, it becomes faster, more technical and twisted, evolving into a feral force of obliteration. Another short barrage of technical riffing leads into another doom-laden section that is as short as it is despairing. From here, the song continues to build in vehemence, getting more deadly with each subsequent blast-beat lead assault. An abrupt ending, layered with a variety of quickly ascending strings and horns, is the perfect way to end the song. It’s shorter and far more frantic than the previous track, going straight for the face, impregnating you, and then bursting out of your chest within a matter of minutes.
The third, and final, track on the E.P isn’t an original song, but I’m still going to talk about it because it is very different to the original. ‘Delirium Trigger’ was originally written by US Prog-Rock band Coheed And Cambria (a band I’ve been a fan of for years), and was featured on their debut album, ‘The Second Stage Turbine Blade’. The original is a slow, melodic piece of Post-Hardcore meets Prog-Rock, with a catchy chorus and earwormy melody. Claudio’s high-pitched singing isn’t quite as controlled as they would be on future releases, but all the ingredients that have made C&C such an incredibly popular band now are here on full display. I think this is important to note because the Hideous Divinity version is… Well, let’s just say if you didn’t know who Coheed And Cambria were, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this was an original song. Instead of high pitched cleans, you have vicious, guttural bellows. The guitar work has been given a modern Technical Death Metal upgrade, implementing rhythmic changes and adding plenty of dissonance that adds some ugly disharmony to an otherwise melodic song. The essence of the original is still here, but it’s twisted, distorted, molded into a horrific version of itself. The riffs have a blackened essence that turns something once fun and catchy into an exercise in fear and suspense. The changes in tempo are frequent, blasting and smashing with unrelenting vigour one minute, and then countering that with slower, slightly more melodic sections that radiate anxiety. The slightly eerie, but still calm and melodic section at 2:36 in the original is now replaced by an unsettling, deranged and quite frankly insane piece of piano composition that is as impressive as it is disturbing. The drums behind it only add to all of this. And when the vocals kick in during the original, they’re a little unnerving but they’re nowhere near the violent eruption Di Lorenzo treats us to. I could go on about all the changes, but I think you get the idea. It’s the original, but hideously deformed to the point where it’s, at times, almost unrecognizable. And I for one, absolutely love it. For me, this is how you should do covers. Take all the best ingredients from the original and make it into your own. It’s hard to do, and I imagine that this was a monolithic task for the band, but the end result is impressive as hell and is probably one of the best covers I’ve heard, ever.
So, here we are. We’ve reached the end of what has been a short, but seriously intense, journey. Hideous Divinity have created an E.P that works on every level. It’s sometimes melodic, sometimes frantic, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes atmospheric and other times technical as all hell… But it is, at all times, brutal, punishing and ferocious. And that is what I want from my Tech Death. The songwriting is top notch, with so many little layers that heighten the audial experience and shows how much thought and care has been put into every detail on this recording. Honestly, they could have just released riff salad for 15 minutes and Tech Death fans would still lap it up, but they’ve opted to go for something a little different and it pays off in massive ways. It’s a satisfying listen the first time, but with subsequent listens it becomes more so, as you discover all the little things they’ve added. You could spend hours dissecting all of the material, breaking down every riff note-for-note, every transition, every background layer and you’d still end up finding something you initially missed.
The performances are top notch, 10/10 type stuff. The recordings are tight on the guitar front, with Schettino and Benedini sounding like one tight, well-oiled unit. They’re clearly firing on all cylinders and aren’t afraid to show off their technical prowess when they want to. Di Lorenzo’s vocals are powerful barks of brutish hatred, spat with an intensity that could liquidate your face if you got to close. Franceschini is a monster Bassist who I’ve been following since he started doing Bass covers on YouTube many, many years ago. He has always been a source of inspiration for me, and for many other Bass players out there, and his performance on here is just another reason for me to go practice. His little moments to shine are impeccably executed, and he never overdoes anything. It fits in perfectly with the guitars and drums, really embracing being the meat of the band. As for Galati’s drumming… It’s insane how talented they are. The speeds her can play at is mind-blowing to behold, but he can also tone things down when he must. He has this unique ability to just look at every section of a song and just play the right thing. There’s plenty of blast beats, as you can expect, but there’s also some ridiculous fills and when he slows things down, it makes you appreciate the other layers more because he isn’t just trying to pummel you for 15 minutes. His technique is superb and the force and aggression that he’s beating his kit with is evident throughout. The production is also at the highest level. It’s crisp, clean and everything sounds tight. The tones are excellent, and everything can be heard. However, this isn’t super sterile sounding stuff. There’s a spaciousness given to everything, like there’s some reverb allowing every instrument and tiny layer to breathe. It helps up the atmosphere of the record and doesn’t create this grating feeling that you can often get when a record is to clean.
Everyone involved in this project should be pleased because every element of it is top tier stuff. If you’re a fan of Technical Death Metal, then you’ll lap this up with no problem and will be left wanting more. However, if you’ve never ventured far into Tech Death for one reason or another, this is a brilliant way to start digging. It’s got all the hallmarks of brilliant Tech Death, but with a strong focus on crafting the best possible songs and ensuring that they took the time to allow each individual layer to find its place, Lv-426 has surpassed being just another Tech Death release. In fact, I think Hideous Divinity have surpassed being just another excellent Tech Death band. They’re one of Metal’s best right now and if they can continue this upward trajectory they’ve been on for nearly a decade, they may just reach heights most could only dream of.
LV426 is out this Friday via Century Media Records