Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Death metal to heal a thousand lepers. - 85%

hells_unicorn, May 24th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Independent

Not long after first hitting the scene with a fairly conventional death metal offering in the vain of Cannibal Corpse with a few technical additives, Connecticut's own Archaic Decapitator began a gradual process of stylistic mutation that moved them away from their admittedly archaic formula to something a bit more current. The transition was naturally not a totally smooth one, but their 2015 and 2016 EPs showed a growing degree of appreciation for the melodic, technical and atmospheric possibilities that have been exploited by a number of American and European death metal bands over the past 25 years or so. All of it would come to a head with the release of this 2019 monster of an EP dubbed The Apothecary, a full on excursion into this band's own unique brand of melodic death metal that, while inspired to a healthy degree by Arsis and The Black Dahlia Murder, has taken on a more unique musical persona.

While the last outing of this band definitely nailed the melodic and technical aspects of their newly adopted style, they had only begun to scratch the surface of potential timbre contrast and atmospheric affectations via a few isolated segments. Right from the onset of the haunting atmospheric instrumental prelude "Circadian Promise", it's pretty clear that the sound of these songs will be of a far more epic character, taking heavy cues from the symphonic tendencies of a number of Finnish melodeath outfits such as Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum. Combined with the still heavily American-tinged technical and fast-paced madness that has been more a staple of America's take on the style, the picture takes on a dual nature of storm-like intensity but with a glimmering tranquility at its very center, as if the eye of said storm were placed right at the center of things.

The following songs that round out the lion's share of this sorrowful musical journey are of a more measured nature, naturally fast and furious in character, but also possessing a sort of melancholic pristine quality that makes for a neurotic yet fitting contrast. The opening blast fest that is "Skyward" is definitely frantic enough to remind of this band's affinity with TBDM, while the constant overhang of orchestrated keyboards and the low-toned barks and groans of the vocals give things a definite Omnium Gatherum feel. The equally frenetic "Cruelty Of The Host Star" goes a bit more technical on the keyboards and almost could pass for a marriage of that same signature American brand of blasting insanity with early 2000s Skyfire. The two remaining songs are notably longer in scope and include extended passages of serene keyboard moments, some slower grooving moments and idiomatic guitar shredding, but largely stick to the same basic formula.

It has stipulated by many that despite fielding some fairly respectable bands that the American melodeath scene is still far from catching up with the highly prolific and advanced one that has been a staple of northern Europe for decades. While that still basically holds true, albums like this are starting to reverse that trend, and it wouldn't be presumptuous to assert that this comparatively small collection of songs could hold its own against many of the undisputed classics of the Finnish scene. Pretty much anyone who enjoys the technical and high octane brilliance of Fractal Gates and Skyfire will take to what is found on here, though the old guard who may have been aware of this band's earlier stylistic incarnation might consider it a tad too pleasant to the ears for their liking. Sadness and rage can be a precursor to healing, and this apothecary definitely has both in spades.