If the apocalypse was coming, Apophys would be the soundtrack. Formed in 2012 in The Netherlands and boasting members of renowned Dutch bands including: God Dethroned, Prostitute Disfigurement, Detonation and Toxocara, the well oiled, technically sublime and brutal death metal group are set to unleash their first full length album on us all. Inspired by sci-fi themes, modern art, media and science itself, the 9 track release is a very brutal account of what could be humanity’s future.
“Dimensional Odyssey” opens the album and right away, it hits like a sledgehammer. Full on blasts of drums, chainsaw like guitars and incredibly harsh vocals just hit you straight away. It’s fast paced, it’s precisely played and it’s just full on intensity. Round the mid-point it hits the breakdown which is groove heavier in the stringed section of the band, but the drums just don’t let up. Relentless double kick and blasting under a melodic solo just captures everything about this track – it’s uncompromising. “Miscreants” is full on groove worship. As soon as it starts it will make you want to headbang along. The powerful and slower pace brings a different kind of heavy to the table but it’s just as intense as the previous track in terms of impact. The harsh vocals, relentless drumming and machine like precision of the riffing is all there still.
“Requiem For The Absurd” is the track the press highlighted as being one to hear and within the first minute you see why. Fast paced, intense and ominous sounding, the instrumental intro sets the scene and when the vocals come in, it explodes to life. With the pace upped, it takes on a more frantic edge, and the rhythm side of the band really shines through, keeping everything locked together at such a blistering pace. It’s relentless in its approach and just when you think it eases off, it gets even more intense halfway through to a full on break-neck pace. I challenge anyone to not have whiplash after trying to windmill along, especially to the blastbeats! “The Antidote” is a brutal track. Opening with a sample which spells out your typical apocalyptic zombie scenario, it kicks right in with a harsh growl and that sledgehammer like impact of death metal. With dark and evil sounding guitars, pounding rhythm and fast delivered vocals, it truly does sound like the soundtrack to the apocalypse. The fast paced drumming and intricate guitar lines tease between breakneck speed and groove laden, and the breakdown feel section towards the end just crushes everything.
“Ego” takes a different approach. Using synths and clean guitars to build for the intro, it creates an unsettling feeling and a sense of anticipation. Even when the band joins in, it stays slow and keeps the suspense up, teasing at something huge. Its slow pace just stomps on, crushing everything in its path and the impact of it hits hard. It picks up the pace round 2:20 and that retains the intensity from the slow section, but delivered at a much faster pace. The drums and vocals stand out here and the guitars provide the perfect backdrop, especially for the screams in the outro. “The Sentient” has an intense intro. Fast paced, intricate riffs and venomously delivered vocals work perfectly to keep the heaviness going and the groove in this one when you pick up on it is fantastic. Finally slowing down near the 2-minute mark, it descends into a brutal sounding, slam worship section which will have you headbanging and bringing your hand up and down in time to it. The surreal sounding lead harmony over this powerful section adds a great touch to the track and when it speeds back up again, you get the feeling that this is probably going to be one of the most brutal albums you will hear this year.
“The Final Step” slows things down to begin with. With blasting drums, powerful guitar and bass, the heavy wall of sound hits you head on and doesn’t stop pushing you. Its slow pace teases much like the earlier slow feel tracks and it does it well. The groove laden riffs with the odd harmonics to add some new sound work well, but the John Tardy styled vocal section round the 1:50 mark is where it really gets interesting. The frantic delivery adds a new edge to the album and the slow pace still remains, keeping that crushing intensity. The solo section is well timed, with some great sounding wah-pedal work and the outro just keeps it going, only speeding up a little bit. “Humanity’s Epilogue” is another steady paced, groove laden track. The complicated sounding, buzzing guitar riff gives it an ominous feel to begin with, but the full on groove feel comes in round the 30 second mark, wiping away any ‘unease’ with hard hitting riffs. The harsh vocals are rather powerful on this track and the drums are just as relentless as ever but its round the middle part where it picks up the pace and gets that ominous feel back. It’s a real intense song all round and the second guitar solo round the 3:00 mark is technically sound, quite a contrast to the chaotic and frantic feeling rhythm underneath it.
“The Red Planet” is the album closer. A quick drum fill begins the track and it proceeds pretty much as you’d expect it to – full on, uncompromising and brutal. Its fast pace keeps the intensity which has ran throughout the album, and this one just sounds like it would be fantastic live as its angry delivery really captures the feel of this album. It does slow a little at times, but you wouldn’t think that if you focused on the drums which just do not slow for anything. The buzzing guitars and relentless drums just drive this track on and it only really slows down towards the end for the last big breakdown of the album which is the hardest hitting of them all, before it winds down with just a lone buzzing guitar to finish.
“Prime Incursion” is a highly anticipated release and from listening to it a lot whilst doing this review, I can see why. Apophys have for me created one of the best death metal albums in a while. It may be predictable in parts and similar sounding at times, but it’s a fine example of how brutal death metal should sound when it has that technical edge. Go out, get this album and prepare for the apocalypse!