What makes a band so special and memorable? Often it's the irresistible songwriting, sometimes it's the amazing lyrics or the originality of the proposal to make something new and unique. In this duo's case it's the killer clean vocals and the elevate level of emotional involvement they generate.
Hour Of Anguish play Melodic Death Metal influenced by At The Gates, In Flames, early Soilwork, some Carcass and a few other bands mentioned later. This is their debut album but they've already planned a world tour with 169 dates, so if they happen to play a venue near you, I strongly advise you to go catch them live.
Their lyrics cover existential, psychosocial, metaphysical and occult themes, whereas the songwriting is an evolution of what created and learned during the existences of the band members' previous acts, Somber and December's Shadow.
A beginning together with following parts alà Dark Tranquillity backed by a catchy refrain made of clean declamatory vocals in Prog style and groovy musical elements constitute the main attractions of the opener "The Silence"; the rhythm section is pretty heavy and there are also structures with loads of barks and growls; the granitic rhythm guitar is quite different when it goes solo, being not as abrasive as one would expect, while aiming at speed and control mostly.
"Ouroboros" begins with a guitar solo, then it returns to walk on paths opened by groups such as Mikael Stanne's, reinforced by layers of brilliant demonic vocals and clean vocals opposed to each other.
Relying on a pressing pace where guitars and drums are tight to the limit, "Throne of the Gods" contains Fear Factory-like clean vocals that are not only alternated with but also overlapped with growls. A few riffs even belong to Speed Metal and appear well-integrated with the drum patterns.
Another highlight of "Solace of Sorrow" is the melancholic "Farewell to the Flesh", embellished by diabolical back-up voices, while "Blisters" is just Modern Metal with a good deal of pinch harmonics.
"The Road to Hell" is full of contrasts, variations and stops 'n' go; it is remembered thanks to the most brutal vocal parts of the album placed side by side to the clean vocals as usual for this Swedish two-piece.
The next couple of tracks, "Hateful, Hollow" and "Countdown to the End", prove without efforts to be compositions in which the excellent vocal qualities are emphasized as much as possible, recalling to the mind even Tears For Fears' in quite a few moments, showing abilities to giving the best of Melodic Rock singing, growling and rasping within the same song.
Growls halfway between Death and Black are added to the recipe in "Rise", as well as some Metalcore architecture, whereas "Sepia" deals with Thrash/Death with the classic clean vocals added, a handful of groovy breakdowns and a melodic insertion in the middle of the piece.
Very close to the latest In Flames, "Sleep Eternal" is a bit electronic and weird; really unforgettable are the clean vocals that did touch my soul; the finalè recurs to vocals in the vein of Cradle Of Filth, riffs in Jungle Rot's style, until the verse with clean vocals comes back to close the track.
Nifty, crunchy, not neglecting melodies and harmonies, versatile vocals, intriguing riffages, top-notch emotive absorption. Hour Of Anguish is enough to make you slap your momma.