Gather 'round, ye children and punters with short memories, and recall a time when HYPOCRISY was the flagship band of their label, and Peter Tägtgren wasn't the go-to producer for Europe's most extreme bands, but just a guy who liked aliens and ridiculously catchy (but brutal) death metal tunes. Go take a look at the discography of this band — their stylistic changes, from "Penetralia" to "The Fourth Dimension" to the self-titled 1999 album to "Catch-22", and their sheer work ethic at the time, crammed an entire career, and a big ol' chunk of death metal's evolution, into one monstrous decade or so of hard work and creativity.
But after the mixed reaction to "Catch-22", with his success as a producer and frontman of the band PAIN looming, Peter Tägtgren seemed to bail on the group that put him on the map, and the metal world — ever on the prowl for the next thing — wasted no time in forgetting HYPOCRISY's heavy hand in creating where we are today. Well, four years after their last album, "Virus", it's time for a none-too-gentle reminder. The title of this album is certainly appropriate — it's like a sampler box of HYPOCRISY's storied career, and no matter what era is your favorite, there's something here for you.
Want that big, expansive self-titled sound, with the midtempo chugging drums, chiming cinematic black-metal-esque chords and Tägtgren's anthemic bellowing about all manner of X-Files crap? "No Tomorrow" and "Global Domination" will satisfy you mightily. Rather get your head torn off with a thrash beat and some death metal aggression? "Valley of the Damned" blasts out of the box with punishing fervor and some wicked low vocals. Even better, "Taste the Extreme Divine" and "Weed Out the Weak" are baseball bats to the knees, with brutal blasts and pissed-off energy cranked up to eleven.
Don't look for the clean vocals from the "Catch-22" era — there's melody to be had here, but it's housed in the bricks-and-barbed-wire mix and aggressive riffing of a fired up, rejuvenated, and unabashedly death metal band. Even at their hookiest ("Sky's Falling Down", "Solar Empire") or most dramatic ("No Tomorrow"), there's a rough edge and a massive wall-of-sound production steamrolling everything in its path. And that's a good thing — "A Taste of Extreme Divinity" is an intense listen, insistent and pummeling, yet dynamic enough to stay memorable.
If there has to be a gripe, you could say that the songs here are a bit verse-chorus-verse formulaic — Peter Tägtgren could, and possibly does, write shit like this in his sleep. But when it goes down this good and inspires Pavlovian headbanging on a neck-wrecking level, it's hard to quibble with the results. If you like your death metal midtempo and accessible, but heavier than a lead coffin lid, with occasional forays into doomy anthems and blasting raveups, HYPOCRISY is your band — and they have been for the past decade and a half, whether we all remembered it or not. Even if "A Taste of Extreme Divinity" doesn't put them back on top of the mountain, it'll at least serve as a reminder to the world of the importance of this underrated band's place in metal.