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Album Review: "Virus" by Swedish Melodic Death Metal Band Hypocrisy

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

A boat in a lake somewhere in Sweden, the home country of the band Hypocrisy.

A boat in a lake somewhere in Sweden, the home country of the band Hypocrisy.

A Change In Band Personnel Does Not Make Sweden's Hypocrisy Average

Virus is the 10th studio album released by Swedish melodic death metal band Hypocrisy and this album has a change in personnel, in fact there are a few new members that were not present on the previous album The Arrival. Virus came out immediately after that one in 2005. Joining the one and only Peter Tagtgren on this album are second guitarist Andreas Holma and the drummer that is known by his stage name of Horgh. His real name is Reidar Horghagen and he is from Norway, making him the only non-Swedish member to play on this album. It does create an interesting musical dynamic when you have members from different countries performing on an album and in some cases this can make the songs on the album stronger.

The Album Is a Very Melodic Work by Hypocrisy

Virus is one of the more melodic albums released by Hypocrisy but it still has that rough vocal edge to it that we heard on the band’s previous albums. However, on this album we see Peter using a raspy vocal style as well as switching back to the more rough style. For those of you feeling nostalgic you will get to hear both the “old” vocal style as well as the more modern raspy vocals.

This Album Still Starts Out Fast and Heavy

The intro to this album is only 16 seconds long written as XVI and it is really nothing at all to speak of before the next full moment of the album. This is the hard-hitting song War-Path. You knew that these guys would get started with their aggressive death metal didn’t you? War-Path in particular lyrically is about the fact that the world is entering a new era and it is failing us.

"Fearless"

Two Unique Strengths for This 2005 Album

In terms of the drumming, the addition of the man that goes by his stage name of “Horgh” is a good replacement for Lars Szoke. Horgh knows how to do drumming that not only sounds better but it is much more than just your standard tapping death metal drums. In terms of melodies, there is also another interesting dynamic or part that we have not seen from Sweden’s Hypocrisy prior to this album. That quality is the neoclassical sort of part or section in the song “Incised Before I’ve Ceased.” It is easy to spot this part in the middle of the song if you are familiar with Yngwie Malmsteen style neoclassical sections but this one is much slower in tempo than Yngwie would compose. But it still strengthens the song.

"War-Path"

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Lyrical Style and Songwriting of "Virus"

Lyrically, the album is also a good fit for the times. In 2005, war was upon the world with the US military bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan as the body counts kept increasing. Politics aside, this album is the best one that Hypocrisy put out since The Fourth Dimension. The album Virus is also lyrically about the nature of what humans are capable of when they are so consumed by rage and anger. But this album is not some Cannibal Corpse clone though. It is an album that has both hard-hitting tracks as well as the more melodic ones. However, the song “Blooddrenched” has some vocals that might have you thinking about that mentioned band. The vocals resemble a sort of George Fisher style if you know what I mean.

“A Thousand Lies” is a song that is sort of atmospheric and shows the musical diversity of this album. The song first starts out sort of “quiet” and slow before getting into a melodic death metal kind of song. “Scrutinized” is a song that lyrically is actually about how the elites of the world in various countries have already set the rules in regards to how they want their populations to conform to their standards. Is there such a thing as freedom when society becomes so controlled by the elites?

Final Thoughts About Hypocrisy's Outstanding 2005 Studio Album

Virus is one of those albums in the history of Hypocrisy that has both aspects of the old vocal style and a newer vocal style. It also has a Cannibal Corpse style song as was mentioned earlier. For metal fans that want to hear a melodic death metal album with diverse musical sections, then Virus is an album that is a great choice. But it is still difficult to state with certainty whether this album is better than The Fourth Dimension. However, this 2005 album shows just how much Hypocrisy has gotten better and evolved and it took 11 years for the band to do so. “Fearless” with its melodic main riff may be my favorite song in this 2005 album. Lyrically it is about a person that does things for his own pleasure. He intends to release and express his anger at any cost. This album came out well before the current pandemic came upon this world but it is a guess that maybe the band somehow had a good feeling that there would be a major virus that would strike the world. This album is a dramatic departure musically from Hypocrisy’s earlier releases but it is very well done.

© 2022 Ara Vahanian

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