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Apokatastasia - Shedding CD (album) cover



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Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Shedding' - Apokatastasia (8/10)

Hailing from Switzerland comes this unlikely album from one-time act Apokatastasia. If you're wondering why you've never heard of these guys before, there's good reason. Throughout their decade plus of existence, the band has only ever put out a four song demo, and this one full-length album, released independently of any label support. With a general lack of publicity, this band has remained obscure, and it is quite a shame for the fact that despite not being prolific in their efforts, 'Shedding' is an excellent piece of work. Mixing such far flung sounds as psychedelic rock and classical chamber music onto a technical metal backdrop, Apokatastasia's one legitimate album is a powerhouse from beginning to end.

With the exception of a few ambient howls here and there, a short clean vocal section, and a straightforward bonus track, 'Shedding' is an instrumental affair, instead allowing the band's defining trait- the use of the violin- to lead many of the band's passages. While there are many heavier moments on the album, Apokatastasia opts for a very dynamic approach in the sense that there are about as many mellow moments here as more typical 'metal' sections. Leading the album onwards is 'Schizophriend', a perfect overture for what is to come. From the first few minutes of the album, the listener can already hear the psychedelic-tinged sound of the band's atmosphere, as well as the haunting violin and the starkly contrasted metal riffage abruptly thrown in. 'Schizophriend' also manages to make a perfect climax in the song, following the heaviest section in the song with a moment of quiet respite, then followed in suit by a stunning harmony between the guitars and the violin. An incredible way to introduce the band's style.

Next is 'Sag Lessek,' which is sure to focus a bit more on the metal sound that generally lacked from the first track. Here, the violins are mixed with the heavier metal in a very up- tempo track that is reminiscent of gypsy jazz. Next after that is 'LysergSureDithylamid,' an obvious homage to the psychedelic compound made famous by sixties counterculture. Coincidentally, this mellow and trippy foray into psychedelic chamber music sounds like a page ripped out of the Beatle's 'Yellow Submarine' film soundtrack. Some meandering guitar work floats in the background as the incredible string work of David Reitz. This beautiful, yet unsettling piece of music- along with 'Schizophriend'- are the two grandest highlights on the album, and while the other tracks maintain an intelligent design, none share the same impact.

A brief, trippy yet ultimately unnecessary interlude later is the album's thrashiest and heaviest number, 'Raped Visions'. It is here where the band's technical metal roots come in full force, and it is clear that the band can play metal like the best of them. With the final two tracks, the band reprises the same style developed over the previous tracks, and builds upon them a bit, making for a less shocking yet equally enjoyable second half.

On top of the actual album material, the band kindly includes a bonus track, which is much unlike the rest of the music here for the fact that it has vocals throughout the entire song. Instantly reminding me of a more experimental version of Opeth, the bonus track manages to reprise all of the band's style merges in a relatively short song length, perhaps giving a hint of where the band plans, or planned to go with their sound in the future. As far as this debut is concerned however, it is a shame that Apokatastasia has never released anything after 'Shedding,' for it is a beautifully haunting piece of work. At times, it does feel as if some sections (particularly the heavier parts) could have done better with some vocal work to bridge the gap, but anyone looking for a piece of metal that is avant-garde without sounding too quirky or strange would do well to seek out this obscure gem.

Report this review (#368521)
Posted Friday, December 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars APOKATASTASIA formed in 1998 in the city of Zug, Switzerland which sits due south of the city of Zurich in the northern region of the country. This unique band caught the attention of the prog world back in the early 2000s with its debut demo "Waiting Four" which showcased a unique blend of "Red" era King Crimson guitar riffing only with a much heavier metal attitude with classical and jazz underpinnings of harmonic development and complexities. The main feature of this band's sound though was by far the instantly ear-catching violin and cello contributions which also brought the prog historian back to the early years of prog which reminded a lot of High Tide's classic "Sea Shanties" however APOKATASTASIA eschewed any vocal aspects and crafted a wild 30 minute ride of instrumental prog prowess.

While technically "Waiting Four" was a mere demo, the quality of the music and the excellent production guaranteed that anyone interested in this band would consider it a bonafide release since the four tracks never appeared anywhere else. Two years later the band which consisted of Mark Hofstetter (guitar), Matthias Kürsteiner (guitar), Dario Hofstetter (drums) and David Reitz (violin, cello) and later joined by Markus Bach (bass, 2003-present) released its first and so far only album SHEDDING which seems to be the last we'll ever hear from this band since fifteen years have elapsed since this album's release. The band started out under the name Radical Moon in the 90s and then took a more metal turns as Schizophriend before adopting the more cryptic moniker APOKATASTASIA which seems to be derived from "apocatastasis" which means the belief that all souls ultimately achieve salvation and are received into heaven.

Continuing in the vein of the debut demo release, APOKATASTASIA expands upon the sounds laid down and crafted a more expansive left field into the world of prog rock with an overall less metallic bombast. SHEDDING reminds me most of early Anekdoten with lush symphonic backdrops that include softer guitar passages alternated with heavy rock energy for contrast but for the most part SHEDDING seems to revolve around the melancholic violin and cello performances that keep this album in a state of depressive classical music mode where parts are inspired by Anton Dvorak's cello concertos. While predominantly an instrumental album in the footsteps of "Waiting Four," SHEDDING offers a view vocal utterances which mostly serve as wordless melodies that act as an extra instrument rather than convey any lyrical significance. The exception to this is the bonus track "Empty Flower Vox Edit" which adds growly vocals to the instrumental track first released on the demo.

SHEDDING is one of those intricately designed strolls into prog paradise with hefty compositions that take labyrinthine turns through countless movements that nurture melodic processions which finds dominant violins driving guitars, bass and drums into the progosphere and back. The music is as dark and forbidding as the album cover art implies and while including just enough metal moments to squeak by is really an overall mid tempo KC-Red style rock parade that excels in complex time signature workouts and abrupt changes from pacifying violin rock to metal bombast at the drop of a hat. The album features nine tracks and the first eight tracks from the sound sample "Intro" to the cello-fueled "Nothing" mostly simmer on a mode that emphasizes atmospheric string-driven rock over metal bombast but the final closer "Empty Flower Vox Edit" unleashes the full metal fury with complex prog bombast and metal distortion that reminds me most of Opeth's earliest offerings. This is a really interesting album that will please those who love that magic grey area where heavier prog rock meets the metal universe. These are advanced level compositions here and only for those who like melodically driven angularity if ya know what i mean!

Report this review (#2415298)
Posted Thursday, June 25, 2020 | Review Permalink

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