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Antipope – Apostle of Infinite Joy Award winner

Antipope
Apostle of Infinite Joy
by Santiago Puyol at 30 March 2020, 4:44 PM

Founded in 2004, Finish band ANTIPOPE has been playing a mixture of separate sounds mixed under the Progressive Metal umbrella. With Gothic, Industrial, Black and Sludge into their DNA, they have released several full-lenghts and EPs so far. "Apostle of Infinite Joy" is their fifth record so far, an eight-track musical journey, with a strong classic Heavy Prog flair and a dash of melodrama.

Psychedelic opener "Harbringer of Dawn" evokes the weird feel of "Planet Caravan" by BLACK SABBATH or "No Quarter" by LED ZEPPELIN. Its echoey clean guitars and tom-tom heavy drumming lends it even a Desert Rock quality. The track plays around with dynamics, beautiful soft-heavy contrasts. Mikko’s vocals have a peculiar effect upon them, but fit the music. A proggy track with an emphasis on Joni’s basslines.

"Natural Born Heretic" comes bearing brutal drumming and beautifully textured guitar work. Some blast beats here and there decorate this fun banger, as its powerful riffing keeps the listener nodding along. Meanwhile, things take a turn to complex, proggy instrumentation on "Intoxicating Darkness". The guitar work is undoubtedly modern, taking a couple of cues from the atmospheric side of both DEFTONES and TOOL. In spite of its intricacy, the rhythm section drives the track with some mathy grooves. A mighty chorus and the conversational approach to vocal work adds a sense of melodrama.

More Desert rock vibes come into play with the title track. "Apostle of Infinite Joy" builds tension in an exquisite way, with layered guitar work and a fantastic use of synths to provide ambience. Some Vaguely Eastern melodies place it near to 70’s Heavy Prog acts; think the proggier side of LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH or RAINBOW. A brief spoken word section amps up the theatrical nature of the song, while the band plays around with time signatures. Its outro is the definition of epic.

The two heaviest tracks on the album come next. "Red Goddess" is another banger, one that features brutal drumming and tight riffing. One of the guitarists provides an outstanding solo with a Neoclassical feel from its tapping and shredding techniques. "Venereal Ritual for Dispersion and Reintegration of the Soul" is quite a dynamic track, but when it goes hard and heavy, its vile and pure evil. The guitars seem to be trying to conjure up Jon Lord’s organ here on the intro and outro of the song. The DEEP PURPLE influences feel stronger than any other point of the record.

"Serpent of Old" goes for some IRON MAIDEN-esque melodrama, being more straightforward than previous tracks, but still displaying the whole band strengths. Closer "0=2" double on the classic Heavy Prog influences, especially on the vocal layering at the chorus, with an undeniable mid-seventies or even late eighties sound. Tuska E. lays down some tasteful and groovy drumming, that adds as much rhythm as it helps build a mood. A nostalgic song with a funky outro that serves as a perfect finale to the whole album.

ANTIPOPE get to show off their strong songwriting on "Apostle of Infinite Joy". Although song structures usually go where expected, the overall compositional style works as a charm and makes the album highly enjoyable, guaranteeing replay value. When it comes to production aspects, there is an issue with compression . The album suffers from a slight overcompression, making the sound too noisy and grainy, especially on louder sections. Although the album sounds more than decent, this minor issue works against the soft/heavy dynamics the band goes for at times. Mixing is impressive, though, as it gives room for all instruments to show off, and none gets to overpower the others. Joni’s basslines have a warm quality to them and are audible without being too prominent. Tuska’s drum sound works better on quieter/atmospheric sections as it feels a bit sterile on the heavier sections, especially dull when it comes to the bass drum.

I feel vocals could have use a bit more diversity, but they fit the music and when it comes to effect choices, they are never overdone. The musicianship is tight, every member knows their way around their instruments and it is clear this is a talented group. Every idea is perfectly executed because they have the skills and the feel to do it. ANTIPOPE deliver a strong album with "Apostle of Infinite Joy".

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Harbringer of Dawn
2. Natural Born Heretic
3. Intoxicating Darkness
4. Apostle of Infinite Joy
5. Red Goddess
6. Venereal Ritual for Dispersion and Reintegration of the Soul
7. Serpent of Old
8. 0=2
Lineup:
Mikko – Vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
Antti – Lead and rhythm guitar
Tuska E. – Drums
Joni – Bass
Record Label: Fertile Crescent Productions
     


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Edited 23 July 2021
 

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