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'Into the Empty'

(Self-released CD)

MARK: 84/100


4 years after the debut album "Solace of Sorrow" which many of you may have already approached, the Swedish/Californian duo are back with 9 new tracks self-produced through CD Baby.

While the logo has changed, the line-up has remained the same; moreover, the recording is fairly satisfying, even though the bass is a bit hidden in the mixing.

As to the artwork, the front and back cover portray an open space rendered bluer than the original image; the upper part was cut out in order to have a completely white sky. The only pity is that the CD artwork is made of just one sheet, thus excluding lyrics and liner notes (which are as a matter of fact available only online).

The lyrics, belonging to a level higher than the standard Metal record and influenced by great thinkers of the past centuries, are one of the strong points featured on this platter; they are specifically covering the following subjects:
1) taking the risk of pursuing what we want or end up being exploited by others.
2) the destiny leading to the world's destruction and the fact that we're nearly all guilty murderers trying to survive.
3) we're living dead until we wake up, forsake dead prophets and inexistent deities.
4) salvation by digging into ourselves and expanding ourselves inwards.
5) abandoning our comfort zone so as to gain more after making many sacrifices.
6) how we perceive reality differently from others (these are the most depressing lyrics among all of the ones present here).
7) we're almost always responsible for our future even if we don't realize it at all times.
8) there is nothing else besides what we become aware of, name, think and create by our mind.
9) men, like trees, the more they try to rise high, the more their roots will go downward into the evil and meet the devil (who is, according to this theory, feminine).

It's interesting to note that all of the nine tracks are joined together without pauses with the aim of increasing the oppressive result, and it's even more interesting that Hour Of Anguish claim in their attached bio that they stand tall on the shoulders of the giants that inspired them - bands such as Soilwork, In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Lamb Of God and Slipknot - to go beyond the limits set by these Metal masters and pioneer the 'New Wave of Swedish Melodic Metal'.
Started with an intro made by white noise statics, "Oblivion" is a Swedish Death Metal composition resting on growls, Black Metal shrieks and a refrain with clean vocals; it's melancholic Modern Metal with an acceleration and robotic vocals. There also exist fast parts, blastbeats along with mid-tempoed riffs and different kinds of anguishong vocals till the refrain reappears. A disquieting official video accompanies this song, and that is available at the succeeding link:
Concocting Black, Thrash and Alternative Metal, "Denial" seems winking at In Flames; the vocals, and more precisely the clean-vocalled refrain proves to be excellent stuff, ensued by a riff accompanied by Vintersorg-affected singing. Really outstanding is the entwining between guitars and singer, to the point when the guitar alone concludes this song. It is therefore clear that adjectives like immense and wonderful mean nothing if you've never tasted HOA's music, so go and get it!
"Living Dead" was written to hypnotize the listener after a beginning with a powerful riff; the leading clean vocals are actually heavily processed vocals on more layers and contrast with the early Sepultura/Nailbomb-borrowed ones; later on the track becomes similar to a ort of rawer and more experimental Slipknot together with an additional Black Metal vibe in a couple of lines. This is probably my favourite composition because it contains an impressive guitar run before the final minute.
A tad longer than the average, the title-track matches the coldness of Thrash/Death Metal with the bulkiness of Doom Metal. Here comes another unforgettable refrain with clean vocals, followed by Alt Metal riffing recurring to reverberated vocals, a Doom Metal riff bringing back Cathedral's debut album to our memory, brief vocals that sound like coming out of a mad witch's mouth, and finally there's also time for a slightly 80s guitar fugue.
Primitive vocals open "Within" and come back with the sole intent to cause anxiety to the hearer; a Thrash Metal riff and then a breakdown that made Konkhra's fortune in the early 2000s are replaced by a Swedish Death Metal sweep picking riff reinforced by ogrish vocals and death rattles producing an orgasm every time that I listen to them. Subsequently clean vocals put onto a blastbeat dear to Broken Hope prelude to an alternation of AOR clean vocals supported by angelic back-up vocals and of growling a while later. Last but not least, the dynamic and precise drumwork during the whole song is also worthy of mention.



Immediately afterwards we arrive to "Left in Mourning", based on an acoustic guitar often using the glissando technique and a second semi-distorted one. This is a serene and emotional track containing the finest refrain of the album. It is hard to believe but it even unearths memories of the 80s Pop legend Howard Jones!. Only for about 10 seconds the composition utilizes menacious vocals, seeing that it is fundamentally an autumnal song loaded with melancholy and sadness for the good old times that will never return.
"My Dark Mind" uses a Techno-Thrash metal riff and mingles flowing clean vocals to others in staccato almost rapping. Things grow aggressive when demonic vocals pop up, alternated with modern ones, tough guy ones, and Black Metal ones until the comeback of the clean vocals (lead and backing), which is repeated after an instrumental portion.
Rapid, belligerent and enriched by a few Black Metal screams, "A Ghost of Memories" comprises a Euro blastbeat and soon afterwards the fastest blastbeat completed by doubled clean vocals. Several parts of speedy, merciless Death metal are present, as well as the overlapping of clean and violent threatening vocals, which is the apex of this eighth tune. Techno-Thrash Metal strcutures resurface in company with robot singing, leading us to a blastbeat and the refrain apparition again to terminate the track and leave a mark in our minds.
"The Devil in My Eyes", chosen to finish the record, is the longest and most elaborate piece. Up-to-date, rich in palm-muted rifferama and glacial, it also includes Hardcore vocals over a Metal layer followed by clean vocals quite diverse from the ones previously heard, all of which have been put on a sweep picked riff. The main riff is destined to incinerate everyone around considering that it is in the vein of the most obliterating Fear Factory, whereas the series of stopped riffs gets enriched by a second guitar embroidering with accuracy an interesting texture. A mix of putrid and possessed vocals comes before distant vocals chanting obsessively until the track is faded out.

As many of you have already understood at this point, "Into the Empty" is an exercise of intensity blended in brilliant, brutal and beautiful soundscapes of transcendence, managing to achieve a superior level in comparison with "Solace of Sorrow" thanks to a well-composed and well-performed symphony of progressiveness which has pretty much never been articulated, invented or heard this way before now.


  MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 2nd November, 2020


01. Oblivion
02. Denial
03. Living Dead
04. Into the Empty
05. Within
06. Left in Mourning
07. My Dark Mind
08. A Ghost of Memories
09. The Devil in My Eyes


Solace of Sorrow (CD - 2016)
Into the Empty (CD - 2020)

Line-up on this record:

Andreas Henriksson - g., b. , d. and production (ex-Somber, ex-Krematorium)
Richard Lee Potts - v., lyrics and artwork (ex-December's Shadow)


Gothenburg - Sweden/Stockton, CA - USA

Official sites:

Watch the video review in English here:


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