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Antipope - Rex Mundi Award winner

Antipope
Rex Mundi
by Leanne "Metal Maiden" Evans at 23 November 2022, 9:11 PM

Critically acclaimed Finnish ANTIPOPE has both an epic and extensive catalogue of metal to its name. With a clutch of EP’s prior to quickly garnering legions of fans from the 2010 full-length debut, “Desert”, the band initially darkly rooted itself in progressive black metal, and has long fiercely explored numerous soundscapes over the course of its career. Now bearing the latest instalment in the historically-focused realms of metal, “Rex Mundi” – the sixth opus in the band’s catalogue – ANTIPOPE blister with gargantuan melodies, bold atmospheres and crushing intensities, delivering eleven uncompromising tracks of progressive metal in this truly epic concept piece based on the 1200’s Cathar Crusades, from the perspective of a humble soldier.

Whilst genre-defying – and with an especial affinity for the eclectic and a thirst for crafting the original - the assurance of ANTIPOPE’s ability to deliver energy and atmospheric brilliance is prominent and key to the successful execution of “Rex Mundi”. The balance of expressive elements combined with a backbone of progressive black metal to the album lends to a crushing record. Predominantly focused on grandiose melodies and elaborate track structure, the intense sonority of the imposing symphonic aspects within “Rex Mundi” are inescapable and heighten the tracks. The impressive orchestra of “Plague of Heresy and Madness” lays down an aptly dramatic and bombastic intro for “Rex Mundi”, with melodies plunging into blastbeats of the epic “Rex Mundi Aeternum”, a track that flits with traditional heavy metal twin harmonies and symphonic black metal atmospheres.

It's ANTIPOPE’s ability to merge the delicate with the boisterous so perfectly that is the driving force of the record. Take “Hounds of Lord”, compelling with a fearsome black metal opener that crescendos into burly heavy metal melodies, or the fascinating “Eye of the Storm” with its beautifully calm symphonic opener, then ploughing into a barrage of blasts, strapping riffs and scourging vocals to create a tempestuous cut whilst retaining sumptuous melodies. Whilst the orchestral segments are especially mellifluous to the ears – “Mysterious Ways of Loss, Grief and Distress” is melancholically beautiful with beguiling fragility - ANTIPOPE also stakes it claim in the more bruising and vigorous aspects of its music, especially with the bloody brawniness of “Glory of Slaughter” which snaps its muscular jaws with endless blasts, or the incendiary guitar work in the devastating “Nameless Ritual to Traverse the Abyss”.

Despite “Rex Mundi” being a very intriguing concept album - more specifically pertaining to The Crusades epoch - the listener doesn’t need to be an historian to appreciate this impassioned creation. The album is powerful and carries itself effortlessly, as seen in “Twilight of the Grey Gods” which turns its back on anything elegiac and celebrates with its vortex of sound, marrying progressive timbres with trad heavy metal concepts. It’s these aspects that demonstrate ANTIPOPE’s finesse, especially the structural layering in the likes of “Church of Wolves”, unrelenting with its energetic prowess of searing leads and boundless blasts, whilst “Hell on Earth” brings an infernal outpouring of aggression and malevolence with its intentional vocal onslaught and brimming musicianship.

“Rex Mundi” is a well-produced pleasurable listen, especially appreciating the fearless exploration of such a powerful thematic as immersively as the band has fashioned. The talent ANTIPOPE has for marrying sumptuous sonorities with contrasting harsh nuances creates a potent aesthetic to “Rex Mundi”, ensuring a mesmeric journey through sonic intrigue and the artistically profound. This is a striking addition to an already solid catalogue, and an album ANTIPOPE should be incredibly proud of.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Plague of Heresy and Madness
2. Rex Mundi Aeternum
3. Hounds of Lord
4. Eye of the Storm
5. Glory of Slaughter
6. Nameless Ritual to Traverse the Abyss
7. When the Day is Done
8. Mysterious Ways of Loss, Grief, and Distress
9. Twilight of the Grey Gods
10. Church of Wolves
11. Hell on Earth
Lineup:
Mikko Myllykangas – Vocals and Guitar
Antti Karjalainen – Guitar and Backing Vocals
Joni Tauriainen – Bass and Backing Vocals
Tuska E – Drums
Record Label: Moribund Records
     


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