Soft music playing and a voice goes: In times past there lived a king and queen of the Ancient Metal Kingdom, who said to each other every day of their lives: “If only we had a metal child!”. And yet they had none. One day the queen was bathing and an ugly frog with a Motörhead tattoo came out of the water, leered at her and said drooling: “Thy wish shall be fulfilled. If you kiss and cuddle me, oh succulent one, thou shalt witness my transformation and get a child.” She did and SMACK BOOM there it was. IT?? Yes, called Denigrate – from Finland, playing Sleeping Beauty since 2007. . And they are back with a vengeance with their newest brainchild Hollowpoint, attacking straight with some real metal. Like a bullet hitting you at full tilt. There you go, nomen est omen.
When I started on Hollowpoint, I was floored! I admittedly expected something different and much flatter. But luckily the pudding proved to be jolly good eating. And they should probably rename this album to The Awakening or something. ‘Cause, this is real good, mature metal. No shit. The long slumber of this beauty has certainly done a world of good to the quality of their tune. Interestingly, the same happened to Sorcerer with In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross. When these folks came to from their beauty sleep and let loose, it just took your breath away.
Denigrate formed back in 1996 displaying a much lighter and – I daresay – somewhat more careless, juvenile style in music. Albeit their tune already carried the hallmarks of their present-day delivery. In comparison, Hollowpoint has got some real bite. A dark Gothic Metal soul displayed right out in the open. They skillfully mix their metal risotto with growls and – interestingly – some Progressive Metal interludes. They actually call themselves a Progressive Metal band.
In a sense they remind me of Moonspell and Amorphis in some of the tracks, albeit not of the same dark kind of style these two display. Then again, they marry doom elements with more folksy parts. And all of a sudden Denigrate spread their Melodeath wings, going places Insomnium style. Some hellishly stellar solos spice up the record just nicely too. Like some Australian Outback hot sauce that will help you enjoying your hamburger better.
Hollowpoint keeps the power up until the bitter end with no discernible fillers. This is not really surprising after such a long time, I would have been worried otherwise. Production, mixing and mastering are largely well done, no complaints.
Denigrate have however let the work of a LOT of other bands of different genres influence their music. So, the album is definitely not something we did not hear before. Evil tongues will say that they did this on purpose to have something to like for everyone. Honi soit qui mal y pense!
On the other hand, the album is full of hooks, changes of direction and surprises, which renders it fun to listen to. Yet again, they are guilty of a somewhat boring and repetitive song structure evident in some of their tracks. But all of those are minor carpers, as – in the end – the overall quality remains at very high levels.
Hollowpoint really gets going, where Amorphis’ stopped delivering in their latest album Under The Red Cloud. Meaning: The overall flow of Hollowpoint is of a somewhat similar vein. But much more varied and delivering the added juice necessary to make their tune talk to the fan base. As a result, Engraved and Hellbound takes you on a rocky, wild ride straight from the start. And this just when we expected some softer style prog, just to be hit by a ton of metal. But fear not, you prog purists: Some more of that comes to the forefront with Erased Pages and Death Reflection. Prettily done, but coming to a point where one is not sure anymore where they are heading with the album.
But then and much to my relief, My Corrupted Soul graces us with a powerful metal stew, featuring shouted lyrics that would make Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot) proud. Liar with stellar vocals on the track, some spoken and Taken Away for sheer rockiness are really noteworthy. But then, once the tracks come to an end and you want to wind down, they hit you with Thor’s metal hammer: Meitä Ei Enää Ole (loosely translated to We are no longer) will take you by assault. Complete with a monologue in the middle of the song and rocky as hell. A fitting end to a great album. Why the friggin’ hell they did not add this track earlier will forever be beyond me. Forsooth.
Whilst not dissimilar to their earlier concoctions, Hollowpoint now delivers a tune that is much more powerful, varied and mature. It looks like the hiatus Denigrate granted itself was of utmost benefit to their today’s much more refined performance. The band members for sure returned to their alma mater with a full reservoir of ideas and it shows in this record. Coming back from the undead is at least sometimes a good thing. Welcome back, Denigrate. You have a stellar future in front of you – if you wanna tackle it, that is.
Record Rating: 9/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Official Site