23 Jan 2014

Apocryphal - Embrace of Death [Demo] (2013, Hammer of Death)

Self-proclaimed death/doom duo Apocryphal hail from Arizona in the US. Spayd and Polingyowma, the band's driving forces, have undertaken a task of making doom-laden death metal in a simple, back to the roots way. This has produced one demo, Embrace of Death, released in March 2013. Right off the bat the artwork looks killer, with some hapless zombie-victim puking gore and rip and tearing his own guts. The cover is pretty simple and gets the message across.

The music reflects the cover's concept in the way that it's elementary with absolutely nothing but the most fundamental and necessary present within it. The basic needs of death metal are met with a simple compound of growled vocals, d-beats and guitars ranging from slowly paced chugs to deep tremolos. However, this is where the similarities between Apocryphal and the old school of death metal end.

I don't think anyone would claim that death metal has to be a cornucopia of technicality or progressive ideas. It began as something simple in the 80's, and many bands have since kept it that way to great effect. Hell, some would claim there are entire regional scenes built around simplicity and going back to basics. But these bands always have something else to make their music interesting; Atmosphere, heaviness, melody, sound, whatever. But Apocryphal's first demo does not have anything. It's completely undistinguishable death metal. The songs are simply too lacklustre and dull to justify being so simple. There are definitely some really cool deep tremolos on there, but it's like they never amount to anything, with the effects just kind of dying out before anything else happens. The duo seem to not fully grasp how to utilize built up momentum in no small part due to the poorly timed drums, and as such the tame drum rolls just sort of becomes the instrument of the melody's demise.

There is an obvious lack of musical foresight - Everyone knows the feeling when you're listening to a great song and you can almost feel how the track is going to progress, but Embrace of Death is either much too obvious or not obvious enough. When they switch from one part to the next it doesn't quite have that feeling of natural progression. It's shoehorned into the death/doom tag to try to justify its lack of pacing, but death/doom doesn't necessarily have to be slow and boring. Another thing I don't get is the half-time cymbal hits that permeate the drumming of Apocryphal. Apparently this is becoming a thing, and it can bring some much needed variation to bands that only do blastbeats or d-beats, but when it's all the time I lose interest FAST. 4/10 guitars.

1. Oxidized Flesh
2. Bane of Essence
3. Dissolution in the Midst of Solitude

Visit APOCRYPHAL on Facebook
Visit their Bandcamp and download the demo HERE

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