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Apogean – Into Madness

Apogean
Into Madness
by Santiago Puyol at 10 October 2021, 4:24 PM

APOGEAN are a Canadian Technical Death Metal band, coming from Toronto, Ontario. This quintet released their debut EP "Into Madness" past June 11th 2021, a five-track collection that clocks a little over 25 minutes and a half. The band mixes technically complex songwriting with brutal Death Metal influences and enough melodic elements to make for a strong first offering on "Into Madness".

Powerful and aggressive, slightly off-kilter drumming welcomes the listener from the very start. The title track opens the EP, with playful syncopation from the rhythm section keeping things moving. There is some truly catchy interplay between guitarists Dexter Forbes and Gabriel Silva Castro, spanning complex, spidery riffing and shreddy melodic lead lines. About three minutes in it transitions smoothly from heavieness into a groovy, cleaner section. Very proggy and slightly jazzy, with a clear CYNIC influence, complete with some more soulful shredding. It gives way to an outstanding, hard-hitting coda.

"Chrono" comes next, with the gorgeous addition of piano and synths to lend a bit of a Gothic vibe to an otherwise traditional Technical Death Metal tune. Overall, the tempo stays at a slower pace compared to the heavier sections of the title track, even if it manages to be equally intense. The track messes around with the time signature and tempo, laying down some intricate patterns and grooves. A gorgeous OPETH-like, acoustic-led segment in the middle provides some respite from the heaviness.

On third place, "Pale Moon" starts firing on all cylinders. Spidery guitar patterns, heavy and fast-paced drumming and nasty growling make for a violent, abrasive first section. Everything falls to the background for a Jazz and Flamenco-tingled section after the first chorus, with some interesting production choices, pushing most of the instruments deep in the mix and keeping the percussion to the forefront. It almost feels like the metal equivalent of a cocktail lounge. Audible whispering and grunting give a bit of a scenic and theatrical feel to the track, Spike McConnell really knows how to colour his vocal lines. A gorgeous acoustic coda, once again brings OPETH to mind, specially their "Ghost Reveries"/"Watershed"-era.

"Through Vast Existence" follows a bit of a similar structure to that of "Pale Moon". It feels a bit more upbeat and optimistic in sound, even if still deep into the realm of Death Metal. The melodic bits carry deep emotion, while there is also a bit of a Punkish urgency laying underneath it all. More melodramatic whispering help build a particular mood. The mix is clean enough to avoid crashing between layers but not crispy clean, keeping things raw and visceral.

Closer "Vacuous" makes for an epic final track. The use of a chorus-like synth pad seems to dig deeper into the Gothic vibes hinted by "Chrono". Some Math-y bits in here as well as some Post-Rock influences, inject a different vibe to the track. The atmospheric elements emphasize the heavier sections, making it a very dynamic song. Electronic elements get added; another layer of complexity and eclecticism, feeling quite spacey and psychedelic. The 6/8 feel that appears quite a few times in different sections of "Vacuous" help solidify the nostalgic and melancholic nature of this outstanding finale.

Overall, "Into Madness" is a solid debut EP by APOGEAN, showing a clear vision about the band’s sound and concepts surrounding their music. The production is more than adequate, with some moments of sheer brilliance (like the cinematic mixing on "Pale Moon" or the synth layering throughout "Vacuous"). The songwriting is strong and mostly consistent, with the more focused/straightforward tracks being the highlight here as they put the emphasis on the band’s knack for melodic work. Being a bunch of talented players certainly helps, as every member seems to be on top of their game here.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Into Madness
2. Chrono
3. Pale Moon
4. Through Vast Existence
5. Vacuous
Lineup:
Robert Tam – Bass
Jacob Wagner – Drums
Dexter Forbes – Guitars
Gabriel Silva Castro – Guitars
Spike McConnell – Vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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