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The Monuments Still Bloom - 77%

TheLegacyReviews, November 2nd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Apotelesma is a doom metal band from Utrecht in the Netherlands. They were originally formed in 2012, as Monuments and in 2014, they released an EP, entitled “The December Sessions”, under that name which I was incredibly fond of. Now they are ready with their very first full-length album which is bound to take you on a journey.

Well, what kind of doom metal band is Apotelesma? Their focus is definitely on atmosphere, so it is not in the vein of bands like Candlemass. The way they bring about that atmosphere, however, has changed compared to when they were known as Monuments. Back then, they were utilising more elements from black metal and mixing it with doom metal to create an absolute spine-chilling atmosphere. I am not the world’s biggest advocate for black metal but I do acknowledge how fantastic it can be to achieve different kind of moods within a track. The black metal has been dialled down and the band now use a good mixture of un-distorted guitars, solos, and a bit of clean vocals to create an atmospheric feel when that is what they aim for. You can still expect hard-hitting moments on this record both slow and fast, and on The Weakest of Men we get a little sniff of the aforementioned black metal influence as it takes the front seat when it comes to the riffs in the latter part of that track.

The vocals of Mitch lies somewhere in between black metal and death metal with elements of both, and on this album he added clean vocals to his toolbox as well, even though they are not as prevalent. I have to be honest, it took me a couple of listens to get used to it. That just comes down to that I am used to their EP where there are no clean vocals. After those couple of listens it was clear to hear the impact the vocals have on not just variation and atmosphere, but also the band’s ability to tell a story with its lyrics.

The production on “Timewrought Kings” is an overall step up in quality compared to “The December Sessions”, but even though it has some good elements there are also a few drawbacks. There are two drawbacks for me, which comes down to the mixing. First off, I love the sound they got out of the drums, especially the snare. For this slower type of music it’s perfect with reverb on. If added properly, reverb can do you wonders for the mood of your song or album, and it is applied properly on this record. However, the snare is too low in the mix. The hi-hat and also at times the ride are too loud and they push the snare back which I think is a damn shame. On the track The Weakest of Men there is a blastbeat section and I can barely hear the snare as it drowns to death. That being said, the performance on the drums is really great, and it fits the doom metal incredibly well. There is a good deal of variation and things going on on the ride, hi-hat and so on but without trying to steal the thunder from the rest of the band. The sound of the bass is also very good but it is for the most part too loud in the mix, but there are also times where its volume is fine because it is used as the primary tool for building atmosphere. I absolutely love the solos on this album, and part of that is also the production of them. The solos are used as a tool to impact your listening experience and touch something within you with more slow-paced and melancholic playing. The only problem is the bass, as I mentioned, is too loud at times. When there’s a solo, the bass tries to get in on some of the spotlight that is shed on the solos. But that spotlight should belong solely to the guitar.

The first track, Aural Emanations, is without a doubt my favourite on the record. The way it introduces itself in the two first minutes is simply beautiful. There is not other way to put it. It just sounds beautiful. The musical duality between beauty and brutality, achieved both musically with varied sessions but also with the new addition of the clean vocals, is absolutely marvellous. This is something they also nail on Remnants. The songs on this album are pretty long, as in three out of five songs lasts more than 12 minutes, and I must say that not all the tracks hit a home run with me. Apotelesma are rooted primarily in doom metal, and on this album they like to progressively build up the music with different variations in tempo taking you on a journey upwards and downwards when it comes to the ferociousness of the tracks. There are interesting elements in all of the songs, but I only find myself returning to the opening track, Aural Emanations, and Remnants. I love the mid-section of the latter where the solo comes in after the superb delivery of Mitch’s clean vocals. Why just two song sticks with me is simply just down to the composition of the tracks as there’s not enough meat on the other tracks for me, personally, to revisit too often. And an album that lasts for almost an hour and, primarily consists of songs lasting more than 10 minutes rarely will just never quite be my cup of tea, sadly.

I am so stoked to finally see the band come out with an album after their change of name. This is a band I highly doubt would ever go about making the same album twice, and I really can’t wait to see what kind of experience they will have in store next. If doom metal is the best thing you know then this album will definitely have more mileage for you. Even if it isn’t your favourite thing, I’d bet you can still come away from "Timewrought Kings" with something. This is an album that is perfect for the fall- and winter months. Dim the lights or go for a walk and let this album carry you away.

Written for Reigning Damnation.