The anticipation of a new album by a blisteringly brutal/tech death metal such as HOUR OF PENANCE is sometimes excruciating. You weave through the other new albums earlier in the year without the same certainty of satisfaction. You've seen HoP's live shows. You've banged your head to their masterpiece "Sedition" until your neck almost breaks. You've chanted along to their songs with anthemic clarity. And then seventh full-length "Cast The First Stone" comes along and blows you away. Italy's HOUR OF PENANCE have achieved what few bands can rarely do...they exceed the album before it. And "Regicide" was no easy album to surpass.
A short intro into opening track 'XXII Century Imperial Crusade'...and then...Goddamn!...an explosive fury of charging guitars, crushing drumming and the full-throttle angst of Paolo Pieri who screams into your ear until it bleeds. Title track 'Cast the First Stone' is pure HOUR OF PENANCE the way we like it. Fretboard melody seeps into a raging behemoth about a minute into it, breaking the walls down around us, the spires crumbling as we run for cover. 'Burning Bright' signals the chaos of more death metal to come. HoP know not to slow things down.
Their signature tech/death sound comes alive in typical fashion, while also breaking new ground and rushing forward full speed. Giulio Moschini's guitars thunder like a god possessed. 'Iron Fist' delivers an epic onslaught of charging drums and vengeful wraith-like vocals. The blurring speed of 'The Chains of Misdeed", the crippling 'Horn of Lies', the ladder-like guitars of 'Shroud of Ashes', and the breakneck 'Wall of 'Cohorts' all lead up to final track 'Damnatio Memoriae', which just makes you want to scream the blissful exuberance at the top of your lungs as the music seeps through your pores.
To sum up, this album bites God's cock off and spits it out. "Cast The First Stone" licks the wounds of fallen enemies and raises its fists in triumph. HOUR OF PENANCE is always a force to be reckoned with. Until they come to your town to wreak havoc on the weak...listen to this album over and over. You won't be able to control yourself.