24 Oct 2016

Apocryphal: "Embrace of Death"

Apocryphal is to death metal fanatics what a turtleneck sweater is to autoerotic asphyxiation fetishists. The right idea is there, but it isn't quite tight enough to cause any real excitement.
Spayd and Polingyowma have taken up a  task of making doom-laden death metal in a simple, back to the roots fashion with their project Apocryphal. Embrace of Death is the resulting misshapen, writhing mass that is the band's first demo, presented with a simple gore-ripping cover to get the message across.

Apocryphal's music reflects the demo's cover in a concept that is basic and elementary, putting its focus on songwriting and instrumentation that consists only of the most fundamental and necessary. A simple compound of growled vocals, double bass drums and guitars that vary arbitrarily between deep tremolos and slow chugs provides the necessary tropes to meet current death metal standards.

The duo obviously aren't aiming at turning Apocryphal into a cornucopia of technicality or progressive ideas, and a tip of the hat goes to them for not trying to pretentiously make their music more intricate than what they feel comfortable with. After all, death metal began as something where extremity was valued over intricacy, and many bands have since kept it that way to great effect.

"What separates the greats from the insignificant is maintaining a core of simplistic songwriting,"

Those bands, however, always had something else to keep it interesting. Pure, unbridled ferocity, soaring, ambitious melodies, thick atmospheres, burdening heaviness or something entirely different. Apocryphal, however, maintain no such luster, and as a result remains indistinguishable from any other missbegotten attempt at a genre which can in many cases be deceptively simple. What separates the greats from the insignificant is maintaining a core of simplistic songwriting, but never skimping on substance and flow.

What Apocryphal lack is essentially some soul and texture to juxtapose their minimalistic approach. Scattered moments, especially their deeper tremolos, bring up some engagement, but rarely without that same commitment running out in the sand moments after, the duo's lacking grasp of how to fully utilise a built of momentum becoming woefully apparent.

Embrace of Death presents an obvious absence of musical foresight. A great composition should have the listener on the edge of their seat, half knowing where the song will go next and half anticipating the surprise, but the Arizonian duo's debut does neither as their compositions are either too straightforward to warrant any moment of surprise or too out of touch with flow to know what to expect next. The feeling of natural progression is lost, the demo being shoehorned into the death-doom tag in a vain attempt to justify its lack of pacing and variety.


Released in 2013 by Hammer of Death


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