Release DetailsLABEL Nuclear Blast
RELEASED ON 2/8/2005
The Apocalyptic Riders
posted on 2/2005 By:
I do stupid things. It's a fact. I say crude things to women without realizing they could be misinterpreted, let alone that they're offensive. I've caught myself talking to deli meat in the grocery store, using a condescending tone. I've spent an hour arguing something of philosophical merit with a ten year old. For some reason, I'm unable to think of my real crowning achievements - probably for the best concerning my reputation. So given this history of doing stupid things on a frequent basis, you'd think I'd eventually learn, right? Right. As it turns out, I still do some fantastically dumb things - like agreeing to review bands with names like The Apocalyptic Riders (known as Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, elsewhere), a band who may as well be comprised of musical-savants straight from a mental institution.
Their sound is as dynamic as the album title Samurai is confusing. Think Illdisposed as a bar band, encompassing equal parts prog-rock, power-metal, black metal, and viking metal. Maybe, just maybe, they might create something that doesn't sound too far from Samurai. No, wait. Think of Sentenced. No, no. Einherjer. No, wait, God dammit. These are high-spirited songs with tuned-down and basic rhythms, soaring leads, space-age cheesy keyboard effects, and a lot of clear singing - but not too much. It's a harmonious relationship between the scratchy yells, growls, and theatrical singing. The entire scope of the record ranges so vastly far, to the point where I feel mildly insane for being able to hear so many influences. "Der Teufel" sounds like a competent Dimmu Borgir knock-off and is near flawless, but you're thrown off by the placement of the grandiose male operatic singing that enters mid-way through. But wow, the main riff and the song's merit is unsurpassed by so many serious symphonic black/death metal clones out there. There's a bleak Scandinavian melody that highlights the impending fast-break and Blind Guardian-esque choir singing, making "Reitermaniacs" another standout track. "Per Aspera Ad Astra" sounds like Spiritual Beggars playing death metal. "Lazy Day", is uh, sort of questionable with it's jazzy/reggae strumming and fluffy keyboard arrangement - yet is strangely charming in the same way that Dan Swano's emotional-fueled solo material is. Is this making sense to anyone yet, the fact that The Apocalyptic Riders have so little regard and faithfulness towards metal tradition? That there's a head-spinning assortment of sounds on Samurai?
As I write this, a song by the name of "Die Sonne Scheint" begins sounding like melodic punk/hardcore, and shifts into an abrasive and aggressive part with what sounds like a tamborine being used along with the other percussion.
It's fairly lucid and flowing, though. Don't think of The Apocalyptic Riders as some sort of Mr. Bungle/Carnival in Coal mishmash. You can tell there's some kind of continuity.
At the risk of sounding pompous by stating this, I think I might need to take a break from reviewing for a while due to the fact that I could actually tell that this was recorded in Antfarm Studio in Denmark. It sounds identical to the production of Illdisposed's latest offering, especially in the thick guitar tone - probably the reason of the comparison made earlier in the review. So whatever shameful prophecy this production spells out for me as a real person and not a reviewing machine, it's working wonders for The Apocalyptic Riders.
I feel pretty dumb for being so unfamiliar with this band although it's plainly obvious they've achieved high status over in Europe. While I'm not generally impressed with Nuclear Blast on the whole over the last few years, they're one of the few labels that would release an album like this. It's what's made them a tolerable and even endearing label to a lot of people out there - their willingness to release something offbeat but wildly catchy and entertaining. Don't expect to be obliterated by heaviness, but it's an accomplished, creative, and pleasing listen.
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