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Antipope - Denial/Survival

by Sammy M at 07 December 2017, 7:54 AM

Going in to a review for a progressive band that you’ve never heard before, you’re never quite sure what to expect. This was certainly the case with ANTIPOPE, a prog band out of Oulu, Finland. Originally signed to the now defunct VIOLENT JOURNEY RECORDS, ANTIPOPE has gone through quite a few iterations in their life so far, with the fourth album titled “Denial/Survival” being performed entirely by the man who originally started off as just the vocalist and guitarist. The band's drummer Tuska E, has returned but just for the drum sequencing and arrangements rather than actual instrumental recording. According to the band’s bandcamp page, all of the instruments this time around are handled by the clearly talented Mikko Myllykangas, and he certainly has done a good job of getting it all done.

One of my first thought was that the production quality may not be quite up to scratch for a prog band, however due to the black metal undertones that constantly permeate throughout the album, the low budget recording sound actually tends to work quite well. This wouldn’t fly if it had symphonic undertones rather than black and death, but with this sound it has worked out quite nicely. Even the power metal undertones somehow work with it. It makes it sound even more dark and aggressive than it otherwise would if it has crisp and clear quality to it. The vocals of Myllykangas is what really stands out throughout this entire album, with his often sounding strained and pained in all of the best ways. It’s not the hiss that black metal would give, or the growls of death metal, but rather his own unique straining cry that often straddles the line between the hiss and the growl with a little more of the classic metal vocalist stylings thrown in.

The album starts well, with “Waters Below” giving you a great taste of what’s to follow, and the titular track “Denial/Survival” giving a great example of the power of Myllykangas’ voice, but it’s at “Der Sadist” where we get to the really good stuff. “Der Sadist” itself isn’t a song as such, but rather a mellow instrumental with spoken word voice over layered over top. It breaks up the intensity of the album and gives a sense of something great to come. Luckily we don’t have to wait long for that greatness. “Hunt” is an epic song with eerie dark riffs, the most pained and evil sounding vocals yet, and a great hook, which is something often missing from prog. It was with this song that I was sold on ANTIPOPE. Looks like we might be on to something pretty decent here.

My next worry was that perhaps the rest of the album wouldn’t live up to this track. I was glad to be proven wrong. The second half of the album in general seemed stronger than the first, and picked up from what “Hunt” started. “True Anarchist” is aggressive and somehow the most accessible track on the album, with pretty much the entire song getting instantly stuck in my head for the next few days. “Mindlessness Meditation” is all instrumental for the first half then suddenly turned in to something reminiscent of TYPE O NEGATIVE with droning vocals and heavy distortion. Not at all a bad thing. Due to the extremely wordy and blunt title, I expected “An Unconditional Ritual To Summon The Prince Of Darkness”, to be about as black metal as we would get. However what we get is something that, while dark, is also far too melodic and catchy to be black metal. While basically everything on this album has a hint of black metal to it, it often seems to be too….nice to be black metal. There aren’t many black metal songs that even get close to being hummed along with, but ANTIPOPE seems to have produced an entire album of it. The next song, “Tragic Vision” is probably the most typical “classic” power metal sounding song, instantly making me think of IRON MAIDEN. “Resolution” was a great way to end the album, being the most prog song on the album and as a result, bringing everything we have just listened to, in to one song, It has hints of black metal, death metal, power metal, and thrash metal throughout it, and somehow also made me think of “Innuendo” by QUEEN due in part to one certain guitar section. A brilliant way to close out the album, and if you weren’t sold on ANTIPOPE before, I would hope that you would be now.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 6

4 Star Rating

1. Waters Below
2. Flat Circle
3. Denial/Survival
4. Der Sadist
5. Hunt
6. True Anarchist
7. Mindlessness Meditation
8. An Unconditional Ritual To Summon The Prince Of Darkness
9. Tragic Vision
10. Resolution
Mikko Myllykangas - All
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 31 May 2023

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