Tech Death Thursday: Apotheon
This was supposed to be another EP roundup, but I ended up listening to Apotheon over and over instead. For good reason, too!
- There’s another new Contrarian song up, and it sounds like they’re going hard on the prog this time around. Check out “Memory Eternal” and look for To Perceive Is To Suffer on July 28th.
- Divinity have completed the final part of their Immortalist trilogy, and you can now stream the full thing at Metal Injection. I haven’t really paid much attention to the band until now, but trust me when I say this is worth your time.
- Beyond Grace have a classy new video for “Oracle.” It strays far from typical tech death music video conventions in that it’s actually worth watching. Look for Seekers on July 7th.
Apotheon is a band I’ve been meaning to talk about for some time now, and with a new EP just around the corner, it’s about time I gave them their due. I’ve mentioned them briefly before, but for those of you who don’t recall, the band’s first EP was a pretty solid piece of progressive melodeath. The Ascension did everything right; the band put songwriting first, never letting the technical aspects get in the way of the music. There were plenty of impressive instrumental acrobatics going on- the guitars have tons of counterpoint melodies and beautifully layered chords, and the drums are super creative- but the performance was very human. I believe this was in large part due to the production; it doesn’t sound like anything was quantized and the drums aren’t triggered, so you can tell that there are actually people playing the instruments. The songs aren’t overly long, and the whole thing is wrapped up in just over 20 minutes. It’s great if you’re in the mood for something forward-thinking and melodic, but don’t have the time (or attention span) to sit through a full-length prog outing.
The band’s next outing, Mechanically Consumed, mixes things up a bit without sacrificing too much of the sound they established on Ascension. It progresses much the same as the first album and is similar in length, but for this go around, they’ve explored their technical side a little further. It’s the same on an emotional level and still has a lot of groove, but there’s a lot more motion in the guitars in particular. Leads and solos are more prevalent before, ebbing and flowing in vibrant arpeggios performed with immaculate technique. At times, they resemble what Arsis might sound like if they were lighter in tone (one solo on “Tyken’s Rift” in particular sounds like an alternate take of Ryan Knight’s “We Are The Nightmare” solo).
Apotheon aren’t afraid to get a bit weird here either. Even when the band is playing in standard time, the rhythm changes and accents come in places you wouldn’t necessarily expect. The handful of bounce riffs are kept interesting with some creative syncopation and melody accompaniments, and time signature changes occur smoothly without disrupting the flow of the song. One of my favorite moments on the album comes about halfway through the title track, where the music cuts to a bizarre waltz-like segment reminiscent of the latter half of BTBAM’s “Prequel to the Sequel.” Experimentation like this is part of why I love prog metal, and the band makes it work without sounding too hokey or contrived (bonus points for using a xylophone).
Mechanically Consumed feels very complete despite its short running time, delivering a fun, well-rounded experience. Despite being a bit more sanitized in terms of production than their first effort, the band’s distinctive sound remains intact and shows some growth and experimentation. If you’re looking for something smart and succinct, then look no further. Mechanically Consumed is out on June 20th; follow Apotheon on Facebook and check out their Bandcamp for all their music. That’s all for this week, and until next time,
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