For a significant while, Hypocrisy was my favorite band across genres. I discovered them relatively early in my metal-listening career, following the release of Arrival in 2004, and was addicted to their take on melodic death metal through 2009’s A Taste of Extreme Divinty. While their most recent effort, 2013’s End of Disclosure, was somewhat underwhelming, the impact their previous work has had on death metal (and really metal in general) is undeniable. And to uncover what is arguably my favorite Hypocrisy album out of them all, you need retreat all the way to 1996 when they released the quintessential album that is Abducted. Yes, this album just turned 20 not two weeks ago, which is unreal to me. So, as is only fitting, it is time to focus on this classic in celebration of its 20th birthday.
I distinctly remember when I picked this album up, because it was fairly recently. To be clear, it had long been one of my favorite Hypocrisy albums, just one that was somewhat difficult to track down a hard copy of. And I’m one of those jabronis that needs something physical on display when it comes to my music… digital files don’t always cut it. And then, in my attendance at Winter Is Coming Festival 2012 (RIP — that fest was a one-and-done deal), I happened across a vendor who had it. Best six bucks I’ve ever spent. Swear to Satan.
This was an important album for Hypocrisy. Despite its age, the production is sound — and obviously the genius behind that is Peter Tägtgren himself in his own Abyss Studio. The frontman, songwriter, producer, genius, alien is in on full display throughout this record. It was really the first Hypocrisy album to move toward a more melodic death metal approach, a style that would serve as the backbone of the band’s sound for years to come. Oh, and a style as such could not be more perfect around their themes of science fiction and alien life (hellooo… the fucker is called Abducted after all). Also, fun fact, the concepts of extraterrestrial life and human experimentation… one of my favorite things about Hypocrisy.
On Abducted, they manage to keep their initial take on melodic death metal interesting from start to finish. From the very beginning we get a glimpse of everything this album contains as we move from the mesmerizing slow and haunting “Roswell 47” to the more intense, blistering ferocity that is “Killing Art” (and later “Buried” and “Carved Up”). Drawn out melodic leads that form the crux of some tracks quickly give way to a traditional death metal style that defined their preceding work. There are even straight up daringly, I don’t know, ambient/symphonic interludes like “Reflections” mixed in with all this as points of respite. In fact, “Reflections” leads into “Slipping Away” which is curiously peaceful… in a dark kind of way. Peter utilizes clean vocals (with heavy effects to maintain a level of eeriness) to create an atmosphere of foreboding and introspection. It’s the highlight of a uniquely soft closing that continues through “Drained”.
Regardless, this album is 13 tracks that all have definitive personalities and they all bring something a little different to the table. It’s a quality, frankly, that I miss in current Hypocrisy. At times, it can be some of the darkest, most evil death metal out there complete with hatred-infused leads and relentless galloping percussion (an element that has always been a part of Hypocrisy’s music). But at the same time it is enticingly melodic, creating a depth of sound to death metal that Hypocrisy has mastered over the years. Despite how far-fetched some of their themes may be to some, there is just something about Hypocrisy’s music that feels somehow personal, somehow close to home. It’s an effect that allows Abducted to continue to stand the test of time after 20 years, and my interests in music wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for this record.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”