Death metal bands are forever caught in a quandary: push new boundaries in terms of speed, technicality or innovation, or playing it safe and the risks that come with it. Apophys have attempted to address this on their second full-length Devoratis. Based on a science fiction story written by the band’s vocalist, Kevin Quilligan, the record tells a solid sci-fi tale about an unlikely union of two forces facing off against an evil intergalactic race across a backdrop of some blistering pace, brutal hooks and technical playing.
The record opens with a downright barnstormer. ‘Children of the Stars’ is an excellent death metal piece, with a catchy central riff, devastating brutality and clean, powerful chorus. It’s an exciting, very well-written track that unfortunately doesn’t quite see an equal further down the line. The rest of the album is by no means bad, with some stellar moments and great tracks cropping up from time to time (the rolling guitars of the chorus in ‘The Verdict’ is a good example), but it doesn’t live up to the excellent opening track, instead largely trading layered songwriting for more blistering pace.
One track that doesn’t go down this path so much is ‘Xiux - The Parasite’. The band showcases their ability to show progression here, with a slower opening that builds into something brutal and very enjoyable. ‘What We Will Be’, too, offers a little more. Its main riff is a great one and some particularly strong vocals from Quilligan, whose death growls carry a lot of power throughout, but also have a great snarl to them here. Apophys are better when they turn the tempo down just a little bit. Blistering pace is all well and good, but Apophys sound better when slower. When Devoratis is at its best, we are treated to detailed tracks that build themselves around quality central riffs, escalating and providing awesome guitar solos when necessary – ‘Retaliate’ is another example, but one that also shows what the band is capable of when playing at speed.
I wanted to like Devoratis a lot more than I did. Four of its nine songs are great listens and show what the band can do when they don’t just focus on speed. ‘Children of the Stars’, ‘Xiux - The Parasite’, ‘What We Will Be’ and ‘Retaliate’ all showcase layered and detail-rich songwriting that is unfortunately absent from the majority of the record. This is an album that’s almost all there, but the good stuff here is executed very well and is well worth a listen and make for a record that you should definitely consider picking up.
Devoratis Track Listing:
01. Children of the Stars
02. The Verdict
03. Xiux - The Parasite
04. Matters Unresolved
06. Respite (Interlude)
07. What We Will Be