Apocrophex – Suspended from the Cosmic Altaar (Manicidic Records)Sunday, 8th March 2015
Admittedly, the cover art of this one caused visions of yet more retro-death metal before the album begin spinning. Thankfully, instead of old school death, Apocrophex plays technical death metal that does couple well with the recently released Ara. A two-man band out of New Jersey, Suspended from the Cosmic Altaar is their first full-length album, after an EP that was released last year.
There are two major factors keeping Apocrophex from becoming “yet another technical death metal band.” The first, and most important, is the use of songwriting (which is where the Ara reference stems from). While Apocrophex is capable of playing the usual deployment of frenzied riffs and leads, they show some restraint from time to time and allow a bit of mood and somewhat melodic atmosphere to take the lead. One of the best examples of this is the slightly sci-fi feeling melodies of “A Sanguine Moon” that take up the bulk of track (though “The Nine Patterns of Anuu” gives it a run for its money). The vocals also standout a bit, while employing the usual low bellows, there are a number of shouted vocals that permeate through the album, though some may feel they feel out of place initially. Give them a chance though, and you’ll undoubtedly come around. The other major factor involved in giving Apocrophex some of their own life is the gritty sound of Suspended from the Cosmic Altaar. Most technical death metal bands come across as far too “clean,” yet Apocrophex maintains a solid death metal foundation to their sound, allowing it to feel a bit more organic and lively.
Suspended from the Cosmic Altaar is a fine tech death debut from Apocrophex. Already not afraid to venture off of the beaten path and try new things, time should bode well for the band and elevate their status over the years to come.