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These sobs are playing pop music! - 85%

Byrgan, October 31st, 2010

Couldn't fool you, they're still a bunch of shameless Hellhammer hooligans. "Vol. 4 - Phonocopia," like other Apokalyptic Raids' recordings, rides the Nostalgia Train: it's a little fun at times, a little frightening at others and, while you won't be traveling in the front with brand spankin' new experiences and pricey drinks, it's gonna be full of primitive charm and noises that might actually be something loose and rattling where you're seat dangerously resides in the darkened rear.

You don't have to look beyond the band name to know where their dominating influence comes from. They play a brand of two times the Hellhammer that's not too distanced from the parent company, attached with an outlook that's so savage and minimalistic towards musical merit that I'd say they've got a few hardcore records laying around for inspiration and insolent attitude. This also has a dash of Sabbath, namely with a piece in "Remember the Future"—strange place to sound the past?—where the guitar strums a few notes with a pause, Iommi trill included, while the drums unfold some Bill Ward-like solo with various undeniably '70s inspired hits around the drum set. The production is decently loud and even, but with a good amount of effects on top of the instruments to give it this slightly murky and somewhat cavernous feeling. Though nothing that's full of sacrificial static or demonic distortion like on the first. The guitars are deep and weighted, the vocals have some slight delay to leave a filthy trail wherever they go and the drums sound unpolished and part horse with these unmistakable horseshoe-against-hard-surface sounding kick drums.

The band is playing it tried and true with a verse/chorus/bridge set-up: nothing too fancy, nothing too complex. This is carried by the guitar lines, which are a low, humming table saw's close cousin with these palm mute-less, buzzing strums that are frequently hanging out with the heavier and thicker notes—you know, the unbalanced ones some authority figure told you to stay away from. Mostly it can give off this narrowly fixed sound that occasionally lingers to other notes below the upper deck. At times he does some trills and harmonics but this mostly keeps it purely heavy and sticks to the bare-bones basics. This has a few leads that resemble Tom Warrior's all heart and no skill solos, which display a few notes that are bent to hell and back, but this also has some that are practiced, such as using an emulated bluesy/rock hint; if Fast Eddie had telepathy, I'm sure he'd give a few swift mental nods across oceans and through jungles with his sleazy stamp of approval.

With the exception of one area, the momentum never peaks to a blast or other escalating speed that most are familiar with by now in extreme metal. This has some thrashier fast beats and a few others that are edging on a d-beat, but nothing that's pushing it to excessive limits. Think along the lines of a quicker band in the early to mid-'80s period—put them in a line up and it would be a close call from other adrenaline junkies from then; minus the "magic" powder that gave them all that energy, of course. If you've heard the vocals in the past, they're similar but without the distortion effect that was implemented in the beginning. Necromaniac blends a few areas in extreme metal together to form this updated '80s delivery with some '90s input thrown in. And like Venom and earlier Sodom he typically repeats the title phrase throughout the song. In "The Unquiet Grave" he does a cool whispering effect by saying the mentioned and then the main vocals right after stating a longer line. This uses an easier to understand growl that's for the most part never really rounded out. It still comes with a deeper tone and a certain attitude to back it up, along with some alternating notes. And where would this be without the occasional upstarting Scrabble nightmare of an "ow," an "ewggh" and, of course, an "oogghhh," that worded out sound like various heavy objects to the gut: sledge hammer, baseball bat, lead pipe—the meanest of the mean of "laying around" blunt weapons. Just imagine the audio track for a hidden level to Hell that you've never played on "Final Fight."

"Vol. 4" is Apokalyptic Raids back to consistently playing the basics from shooting off into a few other directions with the last as this is something like where the second album "The Return of the Satanic Rites" left off. By this time around, they were able to find out more of what works and what doesn't. Though this has some repetitive parts where the guitars are such a straight slab of heaviness that it becomes somewhat uninflected, but, on the other hand, it doesn't have any areas where the atmosphere dives or I'd cringe or want to skip ahead. The production puts everything into perspective, though it doesn't undermine their playing with either a blade sharp or opposite mud hampering delivery. What helps transpire the music is, among the violence, it actually has shifts that can gradually change with, don't frighten away, succession: such as working up to a solo, a change of pacing, the vocals showing a little alteration or be it one song connecting to the next (1 into 2, 4 into 5, 10 into cover track). Overall, for a non-modern sounding album with all of its eyes, fingers and toes pointed to the past, it still has a combination of a sense of exhilaration and danger, instead of being completely on the side of a straight terror or total bag of sappy fun like others have done when attempting to resurrect an older way of playing. Though the band has ties to the '80s and comes out with material that should bring about some simplistic and entertaining times ahead.