Apostasia – Martyrs of God

up_032904_apostasiaEight tracks of relatively typical atmospheric black metal from this French duo. They’re definitely drawing heavily on a lot of influences from Norway (with some Cradle of Filth thrown in), so most of what they’re doing has indeed been done before. It’s not bad, but it’s not that great either. I like a lot of the guitar playing, and the vocal performance is a strong offering of high screams backed by the occasional lower midrange growls. But, as is the case with many of these bands, the keyboards pretty much ruin everything. The synth lines don’t fit in with the rest of the compositions very often, they’re mixed far too loud and they ruin the real atmospheres of the songs by adding in their own confusing elements that just come off as cheesy – they sound almost like fucking lullabies or something. The drums are also a huge problem. I’m pretty sure they’re programmed, because they certainly sound like a machine, and they’re also far too loud, rigid, and distracting. Aside from being on the lengthy side the songwriting is okay, aforementioned problems aside. There’s a good mix of tempos, tasteful melody (sometimes in the dual guitar harmony vein, others more subtly), some great dissonant riffs and sparse clean breaks, etc. I tend to enjoy the slower material more than the blasting fast stuff, but that’s just because the mix is so unbalanced and messy. There’s a fair amount of low-end to the recording, but it’s all coming from the synths and the percussion. I can’t hear even one note of bass guitar, and the guitar tone is a little bit thin (though effectively so). The layout is pretty weak. The cover art is boring, and the inner booklet contains a bunch of random images that, to me, don’t really apply to the concept of the album. Lyrics are omitted in favor of telling the story of the concept, and it’s a pretty lame one, basically summed up with the first lines: “Fourteenth century. Church and its army strangle the whole Europe, only the Christian belief has the right to exist. Other ways of thinking and prying are simply hunted and destroyed…” Things go on to deal with a lot of witchcraft and searching for the truth and that sort of thing. Not my cup of tea. If you’re into atmospheric black metal that’s not as polished or as arrogant as shit like Dimmu Borgir, you might get into this. Me? I think they should toss the synths, get a real drummer, and just write some straightforward black metal songs. The chances of that happening are slim to none, but oh well… – Andrew Westerhouse

~ by martyworm on January 3, 2009.

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