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In Glory we will triumph or in Honor we will die - 66%

EzraBlumenfeld, December 2nd, 2019

Apocalypse is a one-man Italian viking metal project who currently have two albums under their (his?) belt. The first album, titled Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, was released in December of 2018 and is a fairly decent display of musician Erymanthon's numerous strengths and weaknesses.

Let's jump straight in, since I know basically no background information about Apocalypse. Instrumentally, the album is fairly solid. The music tends to lean toward moderately slow tempos and triplet-based rhythmic patterns. The guitar riffs are simple and borrow a fair amount from classic doom and heavy metal. The bass is nearly indiscernible, but I imagine it's doing something similar considering it was played by the same musician. The drums are also very simple and are very rarely flashy, mostly maintaining a simple swinging variation of a "basic rock beat"-type idea.

The song structures are fairly interesting yet also quite repetitive. Considering the minimalistic nature of the riffs, the number of times each one repeats can be a bit irritating. There are a few clean guitar interludes throughout the album, and these actually represent where Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum shines the most.

The production isn't very good. The guitars sound muddy (and some of the cleans sound out of tune), the bass is inaudible, and the drums are top-heavy and lack any real punch (apparently they were programmed, so this seems like an easy issue to fix). It seems that most attention was paid to the vocals, which also happen to be the main reason this album isn't very good at all. Because the vocals are terrible.

As in some of the worst vocals I've ever heard. Anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, Erymanthon's growl is good. It has an unmistakable, throaty black metal sound and really sounds great. What is truly egregious is his clean, melodic singing style. He cannot sing. Several times he shoots for a high note is nearly an entire half step off from the intended pitch. His thick, clumsy voice does nothing to compliment his poorly-executed melodic passages; hear the would-be sweet folk melodies on "His Last Sunset" to understand what I'm getting at here. It just sounds like he isn't trying; because I have no doubt that this guy could be a very good singer if he just put some thought and training into it.

Once you start to notice the apparent laziness of the vocals, other issues start to stand out with the rest of the instrumentation. Some of the guitar parts are sloppily executed, though this is sometimes hard to pick out due to the thick, sludgy distortion they are drenched in. Following the aforementioned sweet, heartwarming folk section in "His Last Sunset," there's a fading-in buildup of distorted guitars that are so badly out of time with the drums that it's (almost) laughable. A lot of the things that ended up detracting from this album could have been fixed with a more thorough recording process or even (though I hate to endorse this) some digital touching-up after the fact.

I wish I could like Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum. I really do. But the blatant lack of effort by the standalone musician on this album makes me cringe each time I hear it. I think this album had the potential to be a great viking metal release in the simpler side of that genre, and the production is lax enough that it could almost pass for a classic older record. Sadly, every time I hear Erymanthon's talentless wail, I want to punch somebody. And that somebody would probably by Erymanthon, unfortunately.

Best song: "Thunder, Blood and Fire"