(Nuclear Blast)

01. Intro
02. Warpath
03. Scrutinized
04. Fearless
05. Craving For Another Killing
06. Let the Knife Do the Talking
07. A Thousand Lies
08. Incised Before I've Ceased
09. Blooddrenched
10. Compulsive Psychosis
11. Living To Die

RATING: 6/10

The product coming off Peter Tägtgren's death metal assembly line may sometimes be a bit, ya know, workmanlike. But it's rarely low-grade stuff. Whether delving into more pop structures, creating martial anthems like "Roswell 47", or revisiting his speedy, thrashed-out death metal roots, HYPOCRISY stick to a few tried and true formulas. Usually, it's still pretty enjoyable, but "Virus" comes off as a little bit stale.

"Warpath" starts things off with a ferocious assault straight from the band's early years, with a touch of black metal riffing and keyboards in the chorus. Tägtgren is in raw voice here, rarely busting out his heavily-processed clean vocals (used to best effect here on anthemic closer "Living To Die"). "Scrutinized" seems to have the most gut-level energy and power on the record, and it does satisfy in a basic way. There seems to be almost a conscious effort to "get heavy again" here, lots of simplistic grinding riffs and grimacing Swede-death atmosphere, and a banishment of the catchier elements that made "Catch 22" and "The Fourth Dimension" so memorable.

The thing is, whether it's a lumbering oaf of a song like "Let the Knife Do the Talking", or the "slow brooding 'Roswell 47' song" (see "Living To Die", "A Thousand Lies"), or even the fast stuff like "Blooddrench" and "Scrutinized", it all just sounds like pale imitations of the band's past glories. I'm not sure if the band has just gone to the well too many times, or what. It's not like "Virus" is bad — I don't think this band could let anything that genuinely bit the big one escape their studio, because their ear for quality control is too good. It's just that this whole album kinda blurs by without anything sticking out as compelling, or even that interesting. Only "Compulsive Psychosis", way down at track ten, sounds remotely engaging, and even a large chunk of it is pretty much on autopilot.

Let's put it this way — when the band's 20-year mark arrives and another best-of is due, I can't imagine too many of these songs making the cut. It happens — KREATOR has "Outcast", SLAYER has "Diabolus In Musica", ANTHRAX has "Stomp 442", MOTÖRHEAD has "Rock and Roll". Everyone gets a little blasé sometimes — even Swedish death metal superstars.


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