Album Review: Trepalium – H.N.P.
Release date: June 8, 2012
Label: Season of Mist
Lyrical content: Murder, Killers, Madness
Genre: Groove/Death Metal
When Viral Propaganda PR dropped this album in my virtual mailbox, I was keen to arrive at my first spin, as I had just made the comment that Metal was one of the few things the French were good at (besides food). Besides, the notion that H.N.P. contained “very mature composing” and was “mixing jazz-funk rythms to an extremely groovy death metal”, verily excited me.
While researching the genre of Groove Metal for this album, terms like Death Metal, Post-Thrash, Metalcore and Thrash Metal were hurled at my poor brain, which made me think that this genre is truly a crossroad on the map of metal. In the same way, the sound of Trepalium is a bit of a crossroad between the different genres of the, say, lesser-extreme side of Extreme Metal. Of course Groove Metal is the main peg on which every song on this album is hung, yet there are many influences from both Thrash and Death Metal to be found on H.N.P.
An example of these influences are the guitars. They are generally marked by groovy riffs, heavily influenced by Jazz and Thrash Metal techniques, while the lead guitars are of an almost Blues-like kind. Again, Thrash Metal leaves its mark on H.N.P. as the same lead guitars switch to a lighter, high-attack tone while doing their work. One thing I find very arousing is a trick pulled of near the intro of Order The Labyrinth, yet which is employed elsewhere too, is a faint, sliding melody played in the same lighter tone by one of the guitars, while the other guitar just plays the main riff. Very intriguing. Furthermore, guitar players Nicolas Amossé and Harun Demiraslan make frequent use of wah-pedals in order to spice up their playing, which makes the guitar work on H.N.P. a feat.
The same goes for the drums, which are very interesting to listen to. Drummer Sylvain Bouvier (no not the dog), manages to impress me during each and every song, coming up with very interesting hooks and rhythms, which are each very original. Irregular beats, tempo shifts and backbeats are all part of the game on H.N.P.
Surpassing bass player Ludovic Chauveau, I’m continuing onto the vocals. Kéké, whose actual name is Cédric Punda, has a grand, larger-than-live, yet typical Groove Metal growl, which holds the middle between actually growling and singing. He perfectly fits the somewhat thick and chaotic music on this album.
The overall sound of H.N.P. is very rich and thick. The drums and vocals are bombastic and high-up in the mix, while the guitars form the glue of the album with their more chaotic distorted tone. The bass guitar is subtly audible, yet the bass lines tend to be a bit boring, as Chauveau often just riffs along with the guitars or follows the drums.
The music on H.N.P. is very well written, containing not only the usual, straight in-your-face riffs, but also some quieter parts, which involve guitars which are distorted to a lesser degree and Bouvier tones down a bit on the bongos. There are also numerous technical, more staccato passages, which add a nice sense of diversity to the album. Still, H.N.P. is a nice unity, with all songs containing an obvious link between them. Only the last song I’m Broken, which is a Pantera-cover, seems to stand out a bit due to its simplicity; it’s not really a song that suits Trepalium. Although the guys did apply their sound to the song, it still feels like a step back from the rest of the album, even more considering it comes after Raining Past which is a perfectly elegant and well-structured song, typical for the album.
I feel that H.N.P. is a very strong, high-quality release. Although it needs a few listens in order for one to come to full appreciation, it is very much worth the attention. Quickly glancing at the prices (€15 for a “Pack 4” including a digipack, a sticker, a poster and a digital download, or €7 for a digital download only), I’d say that this release will definitely be worth your money. H.N.P. will offer you a high amount of pleasant listening time from this hours and one will have a hard time getting tired of Trepalium’s great sound.
My Grade: 9/10
Buy this when:
- you enjoy Groove Metal, but even when you generally don’t, give this a spin anyways
- you like a very diverse, Jazz, Thrash and Death Metal-infused Groove Metal release