Tech Death Thursday: Hideous Divinity – Simulacrum
Time to go fast. Hideous Divinity brings the jams today.
- Xoth are streaming their newest album in full today. I absolutely adored this record, and I highly recommend you check it out as soon as possible. Interdimensional Invocations releases tomorrow, October 18th.
- Obscura are the latest band to release a music video way too late for their album’s marketing cycle, but hey, it’s actually pretty solid as metal videos go these days. While I wasn’t personally keen on Diluvium, The Conductor had some mighty high praise for it.
“Italian men going fast” is a subgenre that’s picked up a lot of traction in the past few years, and it’s no mystery as to why. This particular subspecies of death metal has a specific combination of traits that seems to draw in fans of all kinds of metal. The evil melodies and clean production hook people who otherwise might not be too keen on death metal, but it doesn’t sacrifice any of the genre’s characteristic heaviness. The sheer spectacle of the speed and precision is impressive enough in its own right, as well.
Listen to enough of it, though, and the cracks start to show in the polished veneer. Constantly maintaining that blistering pace sacrifices individuality from song to song, and the listening experience turns into a big homogeneous blur. The synths and strings some of them employ start to sound cheesy and contrived instead of grand and majestic. And speed and precision are all well and good, but it doesn’t mean much when everything’s a long tremolo riff.
So all this negativity might have you wondering why the hell I’m talking about Hideous Divinity on a Tech Death Thursday, one of the fastest, most Italian bands of the entire lot. The simplest answer to this is that they’re just outright better than most of their contemporaries (Demiurgon notwithstanding. Those dudes rule). There are a lot of pitfalls to avoid when the core of your sound is built entirely on raw speed, and I’ve put enough time in with Simulacrum to confidently say that the band has done a fine job of sidestepping them.
Simulacrum is the band’s fourth full-length outing, and from a high-level view, it seems they’ve largely stuck to their guns with it. The meat of each of the songs is down-tuned tremolo riffs and laser-precise blastbeats and double bass in a latticework of soaring lead guitars. While the basic principles are the same, they’ve fine-tuned their formula over the years, peppering in bursts of dissonance and tightening up the lead guitar work. Not just solos, either; the high open chords on songs like “Actaeon” would almost have a post-metal sound in a vacuum, but they perfectly complement the carnage happening beneath them. There’s not a ton of experimentation here, but when they do branch out, it works very well.
The way I see it, there are two things that really separate this record from the pack: the band’s sense of pacing and their leaning more into actual tech death. The latter is easier to explain; simply put, they explore the full range of the fretboard and have a lot more motion in their riffs rather than simply riding constant tremolo streams. Songs like “Bent Until Fracture” and “The Deaden Room” (above) do a great job of showcasing the band’s technical prowess. As to the pacing, it’s much more subtle and comes out most when you listen to the full album. Hideous Divinity knows when to let their songs—and, by extension, the listener—breathe. They never push that speedy core past the breaking point, with plenty of headbanging syncopated riffs and grandiose, imposing slow sections somewhat reminiscent of Disentomb’s latest.
Over multiple listens of Simulacrum, I never found myself growing bored or losing attention. Quite the opposite, in fact; each new listen unveiled another layer I’d missed before, and I’ve found myself appreciating it more over time. It’s an album that feels very complete, even more so than its predecessors. I encourage anyone into death metal to give this one a shot, particularly if you’re looking for an easy entry point into brutal death metal.
Simulacrum releases on November 8th via Century Media and merch @ Everlasting Spew. In the meantime, be sure to follow Hideous Divinity on Facebook for updates. That’s all for now, so until next time,