Opening with the crushing track 'Reforging the Crowns,' Italian metal outfit Hour of Penance have unleashed an onslaught of nonstop brutality with their sixth studio album, 'Regicide.' With a blend of death and technical metal and a powerful lyrical theme, Hour of Penance give listeners an experience that requires intentional -- and repeated -- listening. In addition to the music, the album features artwork fit for a museum. Obviously, that artwork looks best when viewed on the jacket of the vinyl edition. Available as standard black wax and a beautiful red and black swirl edition, 'Regicide' is an LP most metalheads will want to add to their collections as soon as possible.

Chatting with Loudwire from his homeland of Italy, longtime member and guitarist Giulio Moschini took a few minutes to discuss his personal affinity for vinyl, as well as the meaning behind the lyrical theme of 'Regicide' and what's next for the band.

I think 'Regicide' is going to be one of the most powerful albums of 2014. Now that you've had a few minutes to enjoy the release, what has the reception been like?

So far, so good. We’ve had so many positive reviews. With our fans, they liked it a lot, more than the last one, ‘Sedition.’ That was our kind of comeback album with a totally new lineup with just me as a former member. This album is getting great feedback so far.

This is the band’s sixth studio album, and the lineup looks completely different from your 2003 debut, 'Disturbance.' How has the band evolved over the last decade?

In 2003, I was almost 18, it was a long time ago. I have to say that the first years were very, very hard. Nobody cared about Italian bands. It was thanks to MySpace and the Internet becoming a bigger useful tool for promotion that we were able to grow up as a band. With our third album, people started to notice us a little more. From then on, we started touring a lot, especially in Europe. When we signed with Prosthetic we had this door open up to America. With ‘Sedition,’ we managed to play almost 200 gigs in a year and a half, and we played everywhere, the United States, Europe, Australia, Thailand. So yeah, things have changed a bit since 2003.

What are some of the biggest differences between playing those shows around the world and then coming to the United States?

It’s very different. In Europe, we have so many different countries in a small continent. When you go from Germany to Italy, you play in a lot of different crowds. The German people are always standing in front of you and not participating much in the show, like they really want to hear what you’re playing but there is no mosh pit or anything. It’s very different. What I notice when we tour in the United States is that the crowd is more involved, they participate a lot more. From our perspective, that’s more fun. You get a different vibe. You generally play better shows, you know? It’s a boost, the reaction you get from the people. In Europe, it depends where you’re playing. Every country is very different.

What’s the metal culture like in Italy?

It’s very small, but we have big shows. Metallica and Iron Maiden play here and they sell out like they do all over the world. But with metalheads, there is a "culture" factor. If you meet somebody, they always look at you like you’re a weirdo. The long hair, the black shirt. It’s very hard, it’s such a small community. Also, unfortunately because of the economic crisis a lot of venues are shutting down. It’s becoming smaller and smaller as a scene.

Before you even give this album a spin, with a name like 'Regicide,' it's easy to tell that big theme of this album is religion.

It is religion, but we don’t want to always associate with religion like black metal bands. They have a totally different view than us on religion. What we wanted to develop as a theme on this album is the interference of the church on our culture. Here in Italy, the Vatican has so much power that they can actually have influence on political decisions in our government. That’s what ‘Regicide’ is about. The government, the Vatican, the way they control this small country.

The cover art is very powerful and it seems to convey exactly what you described as the overall theme of the album.

We always want to connect the artwork with the lyrics. I don’t like when death metal bands, especially from the '90s, just show landscapes with a title but nothing is connected. We’ve always wanted to make something that is connected with the lyrical theme and the music. As for this cover, a lot of people mistake the statue as a statue of Jesus or something. It’s actually the Statue of Italy being back-stabbed. It’s kind of easy, when you know what’s going on with the cover you better understand what’s going on with the lyrical theme. We passed this idea to Gyula Havancsák, an artist from Romania. He nailed it. He definitely pictured the whole idea as we wanted it.

It has this feel of utter chaos.

Yeah, exactly.

During the creation of the art, how involved is Gyula with the music?

We just talked about the lyrical theme without passing any lyrics to him. It was actually very hard to communicate with him. Our English isn’t that good, but his is worse. But in the end, I think we understood each other. [Laughs] This was the third album he’s done with us, you know? I think it’s cool to have the same artist working with you, especially if there is this kind of connection that he can imagine what you have in mind.

Obviously, the artwork is beautiful in any venue, but it looks best on a 12-inch jacket for the vinyl release.

Yeah, it’s like another planet, totally. Prosthetic even came up with this idea of doing the special edition. You have the black vinyl or you can get the red/black splatter vinyl. They both look great. These are my babies, you know?

Why is it important to you to release music on vinyl?

I’m a collector myself. I have a lot of vinyl. You know, you get the biggest picture, you have the larger booklet, everything is better to me. And if you get a really good audio system, the sound is a lot warmer than the CDs. I honestly think, especially with metal, that people still collect vinyl. They want these kinds of items. It’s giving back to our fans something special instead of giving them the normal CDs as always. Especially nowadays when everyone downloads, you know? This is something really different. It’s a kind of fetish, at least for me.

It’s definitely an obsession. What’s your personal collection look like?

I’ve got about 150 vinyl records, but all from different kinds of music. My father had a collection of prog music, so mine is a bit mixed now. I recently got the Triptykon album which is a great album. With the Giger artwork, it looks great. I’ve also got some 7-inches from a lot of different bands.

You mentioned that vinyl is important to metalheads. Why do you think that is?

That’s a hard question. They know they have to support the bands, they want to be a part of the community, you know? Buying a vinyl, at least to me, feels like I’m doing something cool for the metal scene and I’m still getting something different than just a CD.

What’s next for Hour of Penance?

We have some summer festivals in Europe and then in September we’re going back to Australia with Cannibal Corpse for five shows. We’ll also have some Asian shows in Singapore and Malaysia.

When do you start thinking about the next album?

We’ve always done an album every two years, but it’s not intentional. It’s more of just a natural thing. When we grow tired with this album, we’ll start working on a new one.

Hour of Penance's 'Regicide' is currently available via Prosthetic Records. Get your hands on the black or red/black swirl vinyl right here.

Hour of Penance, 'Regicide'

Hour of Penance - 'Regicide' - Vital Vinyl
Hour of Penance - 'Regicide' - Vital Vinyl
Hour of Penance - 'Regicide' - Vital Vinyl
Hour of Penance - 'Regicide' - Vital Vinyl
Hour of Penance - 'Regicide' - Vital Vinyl