13 December 2015

After Apocalypse - After Apocalypse

Due to the way my real life is catching up with me, I am writing this introduction after I have finished the review.  I do not like doing it this way as I have already made an opinion about a band or an album, then you have to write a few lies to say that you are expecting certain things, etc, etc.  So instead of telling fibs I will write a brief paragraph about the band themselves.  After Apocalypse are an Italian metal/operatic band who formed in 2014, the press release goes on about how they got together and how they want to be a stand out act in the symphonic metal field which is overcrowded.  That is a really big act and maybe this should have been given to Mr Richardson, but it has fallen to me to review – he is what I wrote…..

Starting with the title track “After Apocalypse” it has an almost industrial intro till the band come in with a symphonic offering that sounds as if it is trying to be dynamic, mysterious and attention grabbing all at once.  It is a little messy to tell you the truth, the drums are far too high in the mix, the bass is doing a Jason Newstead level of not being there and the growling vocals are too low.  The song itself might be fine, but this mix is not helping the band.  “World of Marzipan” has similar problems with the guitars being too low in places, the clarinet and drums are all conquering; at least you can hear the bass on this one.  Vocalist Elena is sounding fine, during the bridge there is one brief moment where it all comes together, however it soon falls apart again due to the production of the song.  “Dark Side” is the longest track on the album, starting with a synth opening mixing strings, wood instrumentation and it gives way to the band as they go for a slow symphonic metal song that actually suits the band much better than the opening two numbers.  The mix is still not quite right in places and those drums are still slightly too loud to the detriment of the song on more than one occasion that it starts to distract from the rest of the song.  It is a good number that could have been a great song.

“Glorious Way” is messy, it could have been more and the basic foundations of the song are well founded – slightly folk sounding clarinet (I thought it was keyboards to be honest), orchestral support to the guitars and vocalist with a cracking solo (the solo is brilliant btw) and keeping the mix fairly simple.  But it does not end up that way sadly, sadly it ends up sounding as if the band have approved a mix that does not serve all of them correctly and it is once again a frustrating experience.  Aiming for a darker path we have “Insight” that have a bit more focus on the growling vocals which are far too lower in the mix once again, the drums drown out everything in places here when you should be able to hear the dramatic wood instrumentation coming through, the guitars are rendered redundant in parts and you are left wondering once more why the mix was approved.  It could probably have been another good song, but each time I have listened to it I have come away with the same sense of frustration with that mix.  “Crying Moon” start with gentle guitar strumming, clarinet sounds and humming over which the drums are laid down and even more wood instrumentation that do not lose the audience for the most part, then the band go into a louder section which sort of keeps up the pattern of other parts of the album.  There are a lot of performances going on here, some of them are not being heard when they should and it just does not sit right.

“One Day” is the seventh song on this album that starts with an apprehensive keyboard which is joined once more by Elena and then the band come in with more dramatic gothic symphonic metal.  When the growling vocals are supposed to be in forefront, you are straining to hear them which should not be the case; I do not want to go on about it again, so I will just say that in this mix there is a good song which has not been given the correct mix after production.  “White Page” is more of the same sadly and the more you listen, the more you notice it.  This song is one of the strongest on the album, the tune itself does have moments where it breaks through and then it is given such a bad job that it just does not do them justice.  “Mechanical Machine” is the same as is “ Sentence” – “Mechanical Machine” is just messy from the beginning in the same way that “After Apocalypse” was, there is too much going on and no control over the mix that it renders the performances nil and void which continues on “Sentence” as well; it happens in the same in places when it could have flown really high for the band which is just a really shame.

This is not a bad set of song by any means and I feel so sorry for the band here, but it is a badly produced album.  I am not too sure what happened in the production here, but they did not handle the band right and it is a shame as I can see these guys in the right hands being a joy to the ears in the same way that Nightwish and Tristania sounded.  I would also ask why the growling vocals were so low when they are used?  By design those vocals are not meant to smoother the song, but it is meant to be slight more audible when it is called upon.  Another point which I regularly referenced through out is when you have instrumentation drop so far in the background that they render the performance from the musician unnecessary and other instruments smoother the album, it does not help in the slightest and make the audience more frustrated.  I know that I am not the biggest fan of symphonic metal but I know when it is done well, this band could (and hopefully) will one day be leaders of the genre as there is something here that is making me interested, so for someone outside of the genre that is a plus point; but you have to take into account that even then when an album is not presented correctly that it does render all other enthusiasm nil and void.  If this album was mixed slightly differently, I would be giving it a much higher mark as I feel the band have a lot more to offer (and I want them to release a better album, there is something more going on here which could take this band to another level), sadly this album mix does not do them or their craft any favours as it knocks this down by quite a few marks.

5 out of ten - It could have been a bit better

Top track -
Crying Moon

You can purchase the CD of After Apocalypse from logic(il)logic records here

You can visit the After Apocalypse Facebook here

You can stream After Apocalypse on Spotify here

You can stream After Apocalypse on Deezer here

You can stream After Apocalypse on Tidal here

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