Album Review: Apparition – Fear the Apparition

Album Review: Apparition - Fear the Apparition
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Well; this is different. By all accounts, this album is actually already out at least, digitally speaking. We come to this review expecting the physical copies of this album to finally drop and so, we have a unique chance to give an album a review that’s already out and give its due. Formed in 2018 out of Zaragoza, Spain, Apparition are a band leaning towards the thrash/death metal style, having released their first Demo back in 2021. It evidently made waves as the band were soon picked up and added on to Headsplit Record’s roster and saw a digital release of their first album, Fear The Apparition, back in July last year. Now, into the new year, we take a look back at what that album held, and continues to hold, for eager fans as we stand on the cusp of of the record’s physical release come February 2nd. Let’s take a look.

I adore how crisp, and clean, this record immediately presents itself as. Apparition utilise a thrash/death metal style that we’ve heard numerous times before but, in this instance, the band have sought to give their songwriting a high definition whereby nothing at all could be lost on the audience as they listen. When you experience their sound, nothing has been rendered with a static or fuzzy aesthetic, it’s been refined and polished to a beautiful sheen so while their vocals and instrumentation is crystal clear, like peering into an ice cold lakebed, we can still feel the immense weight their sound is baring down on us. You can feel the riffs, drums and general flow of their songwriting bounce off your face, back and forth, as the band, within the mixing process, sought to remove any feasible barriers between yourself and their performance. As a result, their songwriting harbours a keenly live semblance wherein you’re actually there in the venue listening to them play.

One reason behind this wondrously crisp sound is how their guitar work has been tweaked. Aforementioned prior, Apparition break down any possible wall between yourself and their music so the riffs are these clean, vicious pieces that can rip into you with zero abandon or concern whether, by doing so, they would then be inhibiting another element of putting its work in. The riffs have been granted a polish and shine that makes them impossible to ignore; often in this style of metal the riffs may have been gifted with a dirty coat or a tone that’s muddied to the nth degree, Apparition however use the cleanliness of their sound to help the riffs interweave more effectively within the band’s other instrumentation. Wherein another band would see the guitars heightened in their own mix to prevent the drums overpowering them, Apparition blend it all together but still leave ample room for each element of their soundscape to breathe so while we are being battered by the riffs, we can simultaneously enjoy everything the drums, and even the bass, can impart.

Album Review: Apparition - Fear the Apparition

It took me a moment to figure out why I took to the vocals so easily, and it’s because they remind me heavily of the sharply bellowing style so synonymous with 80s/90s extreme metal. The band’s vocal presence here isn’t one that seeks to crush you into the earth nor does its timbre have us seething or our skin peeling away, rather it’s something that manages to carry the music along really seamlessly and I couldn’t think of another vocal delivery or style of pronunciation that could fit the band better than what’s here. It’s a very old school approach to vocals and I adore the choice for, whilst listening to the band play, we get an idea there’s all this room the band choose not to take up for the vocals have this slight echo to them throat not only emphasises their projection but also the scope this record is working with. It also doesn’t attempt to dominate the space it’s occupying; much like the instrumentation, the vocals are happily sharing the spotlight. There’s no egotism attached to this record at all. As a personal note, the band throw out the best and closest scream I’ve heard similar to Slayer’s Tom Araya’s “Angel Of Death”, on Apparition’s “Soldier Of Death, likely as a nod to their influences.

It’s worth noting the band aren’t all about speed and incessant intensity either. In a way, this is an advantage the band use since it enables the bass, whether it be the bass guitar or in the drums, to come forth to share their quality with us in a record that, upon initial enquiry, is a riff-laden performance. Calming the tempo of their performance doesn’t merely offer variety in the way of songwriting, which is otherwise good to see, but it allows the band an opportunity to relax their onslaught and demonstrate the underside of their record that might not have had too great a chance to show itself. Throughout an album so polished and cleaned up and wiped, you need some foundational layer of grit to give the soundscape some grounding. Had the bass and drums not been given the boost in the mix, one could surmise the record at risk of flying away and lacking the necessary punch needed to let the rest of the band to glide. It’s great to see the band aren’t willing to just roar in your face from start to finish but treat us as a respected, participating factor in their music.

In conclusion, Apparition’s debut album is a excellently entertaining thrash/death metal piece that is bound to have fans come leaping for its quality. Amidst a growing swathe of acts constantly looking to outdo each other in crushing brutality, it’s nice to encounter a band that isn’t concerned with that and simply wants to write metal that’s approachable and endearing. You may someone who won’t be down for the more brutal side of things, but that old school aesthetic is always going to have its audience and it’s evidently something Apparition played into as I really took to their soundscape because of it’s familiarity. I’d be down to getting more out of Apparition as it’s clearly apparent they know what they’re doing, and this sound is always going to be relevant no matter how many years and decades removed we become from that increasingly classic era. Whilst the album is technically already out, and we’re on the cusp of the physical release, I’m gutted I never checked out Apparition at the time when it first released digitally. A really promising band.

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