Album Review: Apotheus – The Far Star (Black Lion Records)

Emerging from the city of Paços de Ferreira, Apotheus place their exquisite sonic territory in the middle of melodeath and prog metal. The Portuguese group started to record some demos soon after their formation in 2008 and released the EP “A Quest to Remain” in 2011. However, they did not perfect their desired sound until the creation of their 2013’s debut full-length, titled When Hope and Despair Collide.

Fast-forward to 2019, after many national tours and other original works, Apotheus made an international breakthrough signing with Black Lion Records (Sweden) for the sophomore album The Far Star. The quartet took a completely different approach with their first ever conceptual album, blending melodies with the story and emotion. The opus unfolds the untold story of our ancestry — a painful journey of survival in the majesty of the cosmos, but also a delicate introspective about the human nature. The Isaac Asimov inspired album reveals how the collision of two worlds resulted something new: a hope, a mission and a destination.

Out November 1st 2019 via Black Lion Records, each track of this opus narrates a different chapter of this epic saga.

The saga begins within a bubble of peacefulness, as though we’re floating through space. The quiet is interrupted by a jagged voice recording before a more ‘epic’ sound kicks in. It’s all very heroic sounding.

With the final line of “and there was light”, Apotheus’ expansive effort really gets going with a bang. Cave of Steel providing meaty melo-death. The rhythm absolutely thumping and complimented by a cleanly sung chorus. Props for the wicked use of synth too.

With much more force and power, Redshift puts all the other melo-death bands on notice. Resolve to Remake solidifies that as Apotheus’ get creative with their melding of heavy and melody. The beast of the metal growling and snarling while the cleaner guitar lines and singing attempt to calm it.

After a handful of heavy tracks, the narrative of the album takes us to a chilled out place for the first part of The Darkest Sun. It takes things in a more expected direction though for the latter part of the track.

Keeping that sense of other-worldly and the unknown well and truly in place, The Pull of Plexeus’ symphonic edge really lifts a traditional sounding metal track. Save Our Ship follows that with a wonderfully exciting effort, one that tingles the nerves, in particular the drums. Before the huge (not just in length) Under A New Cloudy Sky arrives.

If there’s a track that exemplifies the scope of Apotheus’ imagination then it is this. It takes us on a trip, a mind-bending trip as the band’s more progressive side comes out to play.

Should that have been the closer? Maybe but conceptually Apotheus have more to say even if exhaustion is drifting in. It’s an exhausting album but with the finish line in sight, there is no chance of giving up.

The mellowest of mellow, The Brightest Sun is a smart track which tries to give the listener time to reflect on what has been heard so far. Easy to zone out of, the melody is nice if not lacking in the memorable department.

It’s two final big efforts in the form of Staring the Abyss and A New Beginning. Both tracks bringing everything Apotheus has to the table for gargantuan finishes. Tracks that enflame the mind, body and soul with deep cuts of melo-death and sharpened jabs of progressive noise.

Apotheus – The Far Star Full Track Listing:

1. Prelude
2. Caves of Steel
3. Redshift
4. Resolve to Remake
5. The Darkest Sun
6. The Pull of Plexeus
7. Save Our Ship
8. Under a New Cloudy Sky
9. The Brightest Sun
10. Staring the Abyss
11. A New Beginning

 

 

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Apotheus - The Far Star (Black Lion Records)
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