Hour Of Penance - Cast The First Stone album review

Italy’s death metal squad reach for a new balance

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Hour Of Penance have had the rare privilege of growing up at their own pace. Yet from 2008’s The Vile Conception onwards, they’ve tried to prove that they were the most brutal band around, no matter how sterile this quest could be.

Thankfully, their seventh full-length turns the tide. After another lineup overhaul – a constant in their 17-year history – that saw the arrival of a new drummer, Davide ‘The Bomber’ Billia, with an ultra-brutal death résumé (Beheaded, Septycal Gorge, Antropofagus), this is another blastfest seeking Hate Eternal’s mojo. Technically and rhythmically, Cast The First Stone is as challenging, and a tad tiresome, as 2014’s Regicide. But it’s also surprisingly melodic, as if this newfound clarity was required to echo the album’s overall lyrical concept about the the Crusades. A step in the right direction.