29 Jan 2014

Apocryfal - Ravens [Demo] (2012, Self-released)

In regards to death metal Finland is primarily known for the filthy, doom-laden kind, but Apocryfal from Jyväskylä go in the opposite direction. Featuring the classic lineup of 5 people - you guess their respective roles - 2012 saw the release of the band's first demo, one that had been underway for 3 years. The result? 3 songs that add up to 12 minutes all in all of full-throttle death metal.

The style on Ravens is hard to pinpoint. It's somewhere in the grim borderlands between decisively old school and shamelessly modern without leaning to heavily on either. Their sound is centered around heavy guitars and bass forming the core with sprawling 6-string melodies changing things up a bit every so often, once or twice leaning on some technical and blackened elements giving the demo a few ounces of variation. The rhythm section itself feels well-rehearsed with the drums forming a laudable basis for the rest of the instrumentation through a fast and modern approach. The guitars have the spirit of the early-to-mid 90's about them while at the same time augmenting the modernized sound of the vocals.

This brings me to my next point. When the vocals work and the singer is creaming his lungs out it sounds fine, but once or twice his superficial growls made me physically cringe because they sounded like weird groans painfully wrenched from the vocalist's throat. The vocals aren't as such bad, but they're just bland. Some more definition and vocal variation could really bring some depth to the Apocryfal demo that the smooth transitions that otherwise permeate the music can't do by themselves.

In the end Apocryfal sound like a band with lots to offer and a band that are sure of themselves. A certain feel of confidence imbues the demo and with good reason - The songs are well-crafted and it is a first effort worth being proud of compared to those of countless other bands. The production is a bit too compressed and as a result lacks the kind of punch and definition a wider sound spectrum would give, but in the grand scheme of things it's a small thing. 7/10 guitars.

1. Dark Matter
2. Ravens
3. The Script

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