Album Review: Apparition - Feel
Reviewed by Sam Jones
Like many a band I’ve checked out before in the past, Apparition caught my attention not only with a teaser of their sound but their artwork. I’m a big believer that having a decent cover art to your E.P. or album in question can entice people to check out your work who may have otherwise decided to skip it, if only due to the plethora of material there is these days. The band are a pretty recent formation having only released their first E.P. last year titled Granular Transformation, one that I actually quite liked. Coming from California, United States, the band now find themselves signed onto Profound Lore Records and one that I find harbours some great and truly underrated bands (Artificial Brain, Bell Witch, Chthe’ilist etc). Now as the band seek to strike the iron while its hot with their debut full length release let’s take a look behind the band and their record to see what exactly they could give us in the future if Feel is anything to go by.
With a hard hitting guitar tone the band certainly aren’t pulling their punches when it comes down to the riffs. When the pacing is at its most formidable the guitar work is this defined and punching force that isn’t afraid to make a mess of your face. However what the band also do here is to create a macabre and creeping guitar presence as well; the riffs aren’t merely striking you head on but assume a gradual and collective identity as it fuses with the rest of the band’s performance. Therefore when the band do break out into more sinister sounding freeform guitar pieces or when the riff does assume that more reckless and violent riff persona it’s all the more impactful because we’ve been slowly led into understanding the various forms the songwriting will take. While I’ve heard more crushing guitar tones and soundscapes, it’s good to acknowledge that Apparition know full well how to get the audience engaged and fully immersed in their songwriting.
With that said however I enjoyed how clean the drumming felt e.g. “Entanglement”. Now that’s not to say the album itself has a particularly clean sheen and glisten to its sound because just from a brief listen, you’d be able to discern the record is comfortable with its dirty and gritty identity. The drums however have this rather sharp and eclectic performance that makes it difficult not to take notice of them. As a result your engagement not only increases all the more but since your attention is now additionally heightened, you’re always going to have the intensity of the drums on your mind as the band continue to play. Whether the band play faster or in a more creeping manner, the efforts of the drums won’t go unnoticed and furthermore you’ll be hanging onto the impact of each past and coming strike the drums bring down. The bass drums could have used a little more boost in the mix yet they are at least audible and when things do simmer down, they can be heard filling in the sudden void the diminishment of instrumentation may bring in places. As we’ll soon see the band play well with a spectrum of speed and whether we’re going faster or slower, Apparition always have something in store for us to listen to.
What drew my attention was the band’s ability to easily go between various modes of speed at nearly all times. That’s not to say the band have attained a Progressive-level of speed management at all because this is straight up death metal however it’s curious to note how they can start a track at a aggressive pace but still incorporate slower and, in some places, outright doom sections that bring the general flow of the sound in question down to a crawl and coupled with the flexibility of the guitar work it makes for a certainly invigorating and intoxicating listen. Feel may be an album that is primarily geared towards a standard death metal approach but that doesn’t mean it can still give a lot more than you may have originally thought was going to come your way. With the inclusion of spectral synth work coming through in places here and there, though not constantly thankfully, and riffs that blur the line between rapid fire and encroaching the band create a record that balances the necessity for speed with the desire for atmosphere quite effectively.
Throughout the album we’ve become accustomed to hearing a fairly rudimentary death metal aesthetic from the band. However that’s far from what the band wish you to experience during your time with Feel, initially the record does create this semblance of a no-nonsense approach to extreme metal but soon enough we receive a feeling that this record is darker and more perturbed than it immediately presents itself as which only comes to greater fruition. The rising inclusion of synth pieces, warped guitar tones in soloing sections, that growing clarity in understanding the utilisation of speed here all comes together to paint a picture that this record has a greater depth of evil and unbeknownst horror than it immediately lets on. It doesn’t try to utterly submerge you within a labyrinth of terror or anything so overtly along those lines, like any great work of horror the threat and the fear of what is truly lurking isn’t made initially clear. Only through prolonged exposure does the real nightmare manifest itself.
In conclusion, this is a really solid and opening album from Apparition. What we get from the band here is what I would like to hear in a future record albeit with perhaps a little more experimentation in songwriting, perhaps something that would really enable their sound to reach its maximum potential. The songwriting itself here is prevalent and it naturally manages to suck you in and yet I couldn’t shake the feeling like this still felt a little short compared to what other bands, also performing this style, have done beforehand. That’s not to dub Feel as lacking a presence of its own; the band demonstrate this much time and again during their own performance that their songwriting is capable of exerting unique atmospheric sensations which the band are not immediately trying to impress upon you wholesale. There’s real potential here, I feel like it just needs to be harnessed fully. On the whole though I did enjoy this and I’m glad I checked it out, Apparition did well here. I’ll be hotly anticipating their next record not simply because I’ll be wishing to check it out, but also to see how they’ve evolved since Feel was first released.
Favourite tracks: 'Drowning In The Stream Of Consciousness' and 'Perpetually Altered'.