HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Live At The Olympic Auditorium (Suicidal)

Always found it weird how reticent Mike Muir has always been to do interviews, so it's cool to see him here and personable and articulate, settin' up this '05 show in hometown LA. Quality is acceptable, and the editing is such that we get the crowd lining up, hanging around lights on for the show to start, and then into it haphazardly, Muir beginning with a crouch and a crowd rap and then their hardcore show going off like a bomb. Nothing to the stage show, and it's made even more casual by all those folks standing stageside, although really it's hard to take your eyes off Muir and his back and forth caged stalking. Selection-wise, too much skatecore and not enough of the big metal tunes (Yeah, I know, and my favourite Who albums are Face Dances and It's Hard). Aside from the show, there's just more of the interview that is sampled at the start of the main show. Bare bones to be sure, not much more than an adequate glimpse into this low-key, below the radar man and band.
Rating 6

A Taste Of Extreme Divinity (Nuclear Blast)

Yeah, I know, this has been out since late last year, but it's important and it kinda blew by. Fact is, this album is classic Hypocrisy and well along toward one of the heaviest of the band's career. As usual, what you get is smothered, extreme, scratchy vocals, overwhelmed over-processed drums, and a kind of pure American death metal polluted intriguingly by Peter's Northern European sensibilities, basically 90 points Florida and 10 points Stockholm. Overwhelmed is pretty much the operative, but just as you reach for the "next" button, Tagtgren goes for one of those sobbing, mournful melodies, which he can now exercise at will and at any speed, and then into a wholly new sophisticated section and you're curious as to whether you've got essentially a fast one, slow one or prog excursion. Still, for a producer, it's surprising how hard the album is on the ears, guitars plowed into your face at the expense of everything else. Oppression, malevolence, threat, provocation... there's a challenge there to stick with Peter in the wind tunnel 'cos the strength of song will eventually win out.
Rating 7