Sweden’s Hypocrisy have a long, winding road behind them. Thirty-one years. Fourteen full-length records. A legacy that won’t quit. Stands to reason then that after nine years–previous album End of Disclosure (2013) was the product of a different era–mastermind Peter Tägtgren, long-standing bassist Mikael Hedlund, and now-departed drummer Reidar Horghagen would bring their death metal endeavor to a new boil. That’s exactly what happened before the pandemic gripped the world in its highly-contagious, deathly grip. Worship isn’t the product of the wider worries caused by COVID-19, for it was written completely (well, almost) between 2018 and 2019. Musically, it’s Hypocrisy, back from the dead though more between Abducted (1996) and End of Disclosure than Pleasure of Molestation (1993) and Inferior Devoties (1994). That is to say, Worship is tried and true Tägtgren, melodic, aggressive, and almost instantly memorable.
Lyrically, Worship has its skeptics. Songs like “Chemical Whore,” “Dead World,” and the title track have coincidental crossroads with the calamities and horrors of the day. He’ll go into it below, but let’s just say, Tägtgren’s got question marks, and he’s diving off the deep end to get answers. Or, as he puts it, “his spin,” which is, after all, more about poking the bear than it is academic criticism. Of course, we’ve–those paying attention at least–have seen this coming (or it had already arrived) back in 1994, when Hypocrisy unfurled The Fourth Dimension to a pre-Internet era.
Read on as Tägtgren goes deep, deep undercover, exploring the what-ifs around inner-world inhabitants (Hollow Earth theory), furtively-forced chemical dependency (not COVID-19), and other highlights promulgated by the likes of Giorgio Tsoukalos and similar ilk. Hypocrisy’s ride is open. Worship is the vehicle.
Tell me how Worship got started. End of Disclosure was 2013. I realize you’re busy with Pain, and prior to that had commitments to the Lindemann project.
Peter Tägtgren: My mind always starts spinning. From that, ideas come out as stories, with my spin—fact or fiction—on it. Hypocrisy lyrics are how I see things. I had a solo project with my son Sebastian [Tägtgren], and for reasons I can’t remember—we were busy or he was lazy [Laughs]—it never really amounted to anything. Actually, that’s not true. The song “Dead World” that we wrote together is what kicked off Worship. After working with Pain and Lindemann, for whom I also wrote, I wanted to get back to writing brutal shit. So, Worship is getting Hypocrisy back to where I think it should’ve been after End of Disclosure. It just took me some time to figure it all out.
OK, so Worship started out of “Dead World.” Sebastian also helped write “Soldier of Fortune” on End of Disclosure, too. So, working with him wasn’t that out of the ordinary. Of course, he played drums in Pain. Curious, what was your goal for Worship once you had “Dead World” in the can? The album’s quite varied.
Peter Tägtgren: My goal with this album was simple. I wanted to write better songs. I wanted it to have a better production than what we’ve had before. In the beginning, we started off inspired solely by death metal. The first Deicide, Morbid Angel, Entombed, and things like that. The first two albums are definitely reflective of those influences. I think it’s normal for bands to start growing on their own. First, it’s healthy to be inspired by others. This is something you can hear in others, including Hypocrisy. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But over time you fiddle around with ideas, which is how bands like Hypocrisy start to develop their own style. The personal touch gets added. The Fourth Dimension was our first step into that. It was after that when we really developed our style, with the twin harmonies, slow melodies, and shit like that.
Don’t forget catchy, Peter. You’ve had catchy songs before like “Impotent God,” “Jesus Fall,” and “Osculum Obscenum,” but “Roswell 47” was your defining moment back in the day.
Peter Tägtgren: You’re probably right—though I really like The Fourth Dimension since I look at as a turning point for Hypocrisy. Over the years, I started to really like punchy choruses. Something for people to remember. I’m not interested in writing a bunch of words, where it’s not clear what the chorus or the pre-chorus is. I really want to be clear on that. That comes mostly from Pain. It’s how I write music or how I’ve developed my writing style. I don’t expect everyone to like it. I write to fulfill my own needs and to satisfy the thoughts in my head. I usually write in my head first, and it’s only after that when I bring the writing to life on guitar or keyboard or whatever. My songs develop from then on.
Yet, you had Catch 22, which was your furthest Hypocrisy-sounding record to date. I know we talked back then, but what are your thoughts looking back on that record now?
Peter Tägtgren: I freaked out at the world with Catch 22. I was pissed at the world. Pissed at everybody. All these bands that have been around for 20, 30, 40 years have albums that stick out. Look at Metallica. Load and Reload. They definitely stick out. Slayer did something similar, in my opinion, with Diabolus in Musica. They had to vent, to try something new. That’s when they started to tune low. I mean, I liked all that, but my point is that Hypocrisy is back on track. We’re writing in the style that is us.
Peter Tägtgren: I’ve read—or rather heard—the comments by morons who’ve asked, “Is this an anti-vax song?” It’s funny ’cause people have no idea when I wrote this. It would be different if I wrote it during the pandemic, but since we finished the album well before the pandemic, it really has no connection to it. The only song I wrote during the pandemic was [Pain’s] “Party in My Head.” We were jonesing to go out and party with our friends. That was what we wanted to do, but couldn’t. That song was meant for the pandemic. It was written to put a smile on peoples’ faces. Back to conspiracies, if you listen to the song “Greedy Bastards” off the new album, it was written well before the whole Pandora Papers scandal. Now, Pandora Papers are out, and I’m like, “Gotcha!” Before that, the song “The Eye” talks about depopulating the Earth. Then, Bill Gates comes out a year ago talking about this shit. I think that’s why people weren’t–or still aren’t–excited about taking vaccine. They think he’s got his thumb in there somewhere. I can understand their paranoia. It’s a strange world we live in. I write about things that interest me. I do a lot of research, both on the left and the right. I collect information all the time. Then, my mind starts spinning. From that, ideas come out as stories, with my spin—fact or fiction—on it. Hypocrisy lyrics are how I see things.
Conspiracies then are re-purposed into next-level fiction, or…
Peter Tägtgren: …I question things. There’s a lot of conspiracy theories that are moronic. I have the time though. I can dig into things. Most of the time, it doesn’t take too long to see how stupid most conspiracy theories are. Like the Flat Earth Theory. If you watch them talk, they’ll say things like, “We have 200K members around the world.” Well, wait a minute. [Laughs] If the Earth is flat, then I need proof. What’s under us? Satan? [Laughs] Some other things make me question, so I dig more and I question more. I always leave the door open for new information. Always keep your mind open, and don’t believe everything you read. Otherwise, you’ll go bananas.
That’s true. It’s hard to parse fact from fiction as the digital age matures. Deep fakes, social engineering using targeted demographics, machine-generated content, social media… it’s all a bit muddied, and it’s going to get worse.
Peter Tägtgren: Right. But it’s been bad for a long time, I think. Maybe social media has made things hard to follow, but where there’s bullshit it’s pretty easy to smell it. I will say that my lyrics are very simple. They’re in your face. I don’t try to hide what I’m trying to say. Why beat around the bush? This album was written between 2018 and 2019 between projects like Lindemann. At the end of 2019, we were done with it. We mixed it in 2020. When the COVID stuff started happening after the Lindemann tour, I immediately thought to myself, “I’m in no rush to finish this [Hypocrisy].” I took a half-year break.
Let’s get into the alien theme that’s been around in some shape or form since Abducted. “Gods of the Underground” needs to be mentioned, if I want to target a specific song.
Peter Tägtgren: “Gods of the Underground” is a story about a civilization that lives inside the Earth. The Earth is like a honeycomb. In my story, an apocalyptic event has happened on the Earth’s surface. The surface has been wiped out. The people living inside the Earth own the Earth, from the beginning of time. We’re recent seeds. When we see spaceships and shit like that, they don’t have to come from outer space, they can come from inner space. As part of the same story, I’m also questioning the fact that someone or something must’ve done something with our DNA. We’ve made a lot of progress over the last 200 years. More than any time in history. We got smarter so much faster. So, maybe someone tampered with our DNA, and now we’re so smart we’re really stupid. We can’t begin to understand our purpose now. So, the cover art shows whomever seeded has come back to collect us and kick the fuck out of us because we’ve become idiots. The ancient gods are back and they’re not happy.
Yeah, the cover art’s really quite cool. Love the use of Aztec temples with the Hypocrisy sigil (as ships).
Peter Tägtgren: The cover art came to me while I was in a hotel in Los Angeles. I was thinking of the Boston covers. That’s what I wanted, and Blake Armstrong did the rest.
** Hypocrisy’s new album, Worship, is out now on Nuclear Blast. Order CD and cassette (purple shell) HERE.