Hideous Divinity – Unextinct (Century Media)

Friday, 22nd March 2024
Rating: 9.5 / 10

Death metal is at times a genre in some state of flux. Plenty of originality around these days, but also a number of less than desirable copycats of yesteryear. There are, however, more than a few bands who in recent years have undeniably changed the genre immeasurably for the better. Ulcerate comes to mind, bringing never before seen levels of dissonance to the table. Equal in impact is Rome’s Hideous Divinity. Since their immense 2012 debut album Obeisance Rising, they’ve changed the game of creativity within death metal. Hideous Divinity are an amalgamation of the best parts of technical and brutal death metal, and along with a knack for forward thinking songwriting, have resulted in forming a sound that few have been able to match. Four albums and an EP later, they’re of the most respected bands in their most beloved styling.

With the recent trend mentioned earlier of a few dreadfully tiresome acts gaining notoriety for making Wish.com versions of classic death metal, it has made waters more difficult to navigate for bands who aim for more innovative horizons. With the announcement of the Italian’s fifth full-length Unextinct, the timing couldn’t have been more prudent. Naturally, coming with that is an immense weight of sky-high expectation. Don’t fret – Hideous Divinity has stepped up another echelon in what assuredly will become a modern classic.

Based on themes ranging from a shipwreck, the works of Eugene Thacker – namely In The Dust of This Planet – and the horrors that Nosferatu represent (check out the disgustingly cool cover art by Adam Burke), the music realizes these motifs into a monstrosity that shatters even the most discerning of examiners. A crunchy, ominous intro track “Dust Settles On Humanity” connects to aural nightmare that is “The Numinous One.” Riffs fly with calculated enormity, with vocalist Enrico Di Lorenzo’s precise growls and screams tear deeply into the listener’s subconscious. Hideous Divinity are experts at constructing riveting songs that travel in many directions, and Unextinct is awash with them. There’s an abundant cinematic quality, comparable to the best of psychological horror films, all while being some of the most violently abrasive death metal going.

We continue via a raging ball of annihilation in “Against the Sovereignty of Mankind,” containing notably thumping bass workmanship via Stefano Franceschini. Complexity in technicality and composition shines in the tensely engaging “Atto quarto, the Horror Paradox,” with guitarist Enrico Schettino showcasing some of his finest creative juices. Said example is the longest entry on Unextinct, while also being the most diverse. Dr. Di Lorenzo – to those unaware, he’s a doctor who fittingly specializes in Audiology and Phoniatrics – puts in one of his most iconic performances, reaching a multitude of tones and extremes to an unsurprising level of fervent execution.

There’s plenty of full-on brutality available for those who desire a pummeling – “Quasi-Sentient” and “Mysterium Tremendum” exemplify Hideous Divinity at their most punishing. “More than Many, Never One” provides a taste of the discordant in its enrapturing aura, whereas closer “Leben Ohne Feuer” ends on an authoritative, grim note by virtue of unnerving builds that explode into apexes of raucous intensity. The clean harmonic vocalizations near the end are a new angle, being the proverbial cherry on top. Hats off to Stefano ‘Saul’ Morabito of 16th Cellar Studios on the production work, too. The band has never sounded so immense and ferocious.

At the end of the day, the phrase “the cream will rise to the top” is an apt statement – both in terms of the late great Macho Man Randy Savage and for quality death metal. Unextinct as a word can be defined as “unextinguished” – a descriptor that absolutely applies to the subject before us. Hideous Divinity are indeed one of the ensembles who are keeping the flame flickering bright. Unextinct is thus far the high water mark of Hideous Divinity’s singular brand of terror-infused death metal excellence. An album so good that it will make any buff dude named Tito tear their shirt to shreds instantaneously. Don’t miss this one, or Nosferatu and Tito will most certainly find you.

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