Label: Void Wanderer Productions
Date: January 15th, 2021
A fresh force on the Greek black metal scene. For the fans of this particular sound this sentence can only be a reason to rejoice. Let’s dive in!
One-man band? Raising eyebrows. With no less than four EP’s during 2020 released. Oh, no, I’ve found a catch. Even if the year behind us provided for a nice platform for staying in and working on your music, four releases seem to be too much. Especially in cases of one-man bands, this could be the usual trap most of them fall for. Quantity over quality.
Leaving the prejudice aside, I’m pushing play to find out if I’ll be proven wrong.
I’ll admit it. I was a bit quick to judge here. Though Apocalyptic Leaders do fall under a number of rookie mistakes, the music presented on “Macabre” is engaging enough. Well, it is Greek black metal, and inducing such soundscape cannot be taken lightly as it has always presented much more musical challenges than your regular Norwegian one.
Intricate lead guitar compositions laden on top of the rough black metal background is the key feature of this release. Now, I would prefer a bit more from this background as well, seeing how in between these lead segments we are left with quite ordinary music, heard before many times. However, Apocalyptic Leaders (perhaps “leader” is the correct choice of wording for a one-man band) still manages to spark interest with the mentioned leads. Now, these are not the best, or the most unique around, but they display more than enough potential for future growth. They are taking a whole lot from the forefathers of the genre, such as Kawir, Rotting Christ and even Varathron to some extent. Still, there’s more to them than meets the eye. Or the ear, whichever you prefer.
Some segments are taking the listener along the more contemporary black metal lines. There’s a notable input from the modern atmospheric or post black metal. Nowhere near prevalent, or too obvious, but it lingers in there. And let me tell you something, it does fit. I’m not too big of a fan of such tendencies, but they seem quite nice in Apocalyptic Leaders’ rendition.
Another nice input are the subtle keyboards that appear on occasion. As an atmospheric addition, they work nicely.
Now, don’t take all of the above as a sign that we have a timeless masterpiece on our hands. Like I said, there are a lot of aspects of Apocalyptic Leaders that should be taken under revision in order for it to stand alongside their predecessors. The mentioned rough black metal roots need to be better executed, so as they do not just serve as background noise. A bit more intricate composing is needed in that regard. Also, more attention would be necessary with vocals. They are fine, but somehow seem shy in comparison with the music that surrounds them. Additional strength to them would make them stick more firmly to the listener.
Oh, another thing is the production of the record itself. It sounds as if it was attempted to be as clear as possible, but retaining the primordial black metal filth. However, it got stuck somewhere in the middle with both of these processes. Therefore, “Macabre” sounds a bit too bland for its potential.
Still, there is no question that Apocalyptic Leaders have what it takes to assume a position among the most worthy of the Greek black metal bands. As a young pretender to such titles, there is enough time to make it happen. Keep it up!