Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Apathy - Ghost Light (EP) (2012)

Calling something "progressive" doesn't always mean something. It has become a word that musicians use, far too often to prove to their fans that they understand musical evolution. Sometimes, it is even used as a way to disguise that their music has changed, for the worse. But for Swedish multi-instrumentalist Viktor Jonas, the word is so much more than a tag line for his music. His creation, a project that bears the name Apathy, is using progressive elements to further his craft. On his new EP, "Ghost Light," Jonas tries to rewrite the definition of that oft used word, and once again give it meaning in the ever changing world of metal music.

Even in the first few measures of "Broken Horizon," you get a sense of cohesion between guitar, bass, and drums. In his chord progressions, Jonas creates a tremendous sense of melody and balance, on that is only amplified by the light use of keys. The vocals, provided by Claudio Lousada, are outstanding, both in clean and harsh form. With the use of both styles in such close proximity, the stark contrast between light and dark comes forward. Each segment flows flawlessly into the next, carrying you along for the smoothest ride possible. The lone track that could be classified as "epic" in length, "The Immense Seas of Nothingness," may bring to mind the more recent work of Opeth in its construction. But the true beauty is that Jonas has a style all his own, a refreshing take that cannot be pigeonholed as a clone or sound-alike to any band. Deathly growling vocals are the perfect complement to the sweeping melodies that buzz from his guitar strings. But even as everything cuts away, leaving only a layered clean guitar melody, your foot continues tapping. The impending explosion has you on the edge of your seat, and never disappoints. Through a staggering thirteen minutes, you ride a rollercoaster of beautiful and terrifying metal arrangements, all executed with flawless detail.

After the emotional investment in the previous track, the short, clean guitars of "Sleep" are welcomed, soothing your pain before the completely instrumental second half of the EP, recorded years before, begins. And while beginning with "Journey's End" may seem strange in title, it makes perfect sense in scope. Vaulting from delicate riffs to a full blown wave of distortion and double kick drums, Jonas pours every ounce of himself into every movement, pulling you into his mind and soul. The drums, whether they are programmed or not, are musical dynamite, crashing through with explosive precision. A dazzlingly sweet outro fades away, and an equally glowing intro comes into being on "Shadowdance." While the mix isn't as clean on this side of the middle, each elements still shines brightly on its own. Layered guitars sit atop a wall of drum action, telling every bit of the story, sans vocal. A track that stands under four minutes, this is one that will not soon be forgotten. The melodies are intoxicating, especially in the presence of heavier elements. The final track, "Beyond Salvation," is a means to an end, one that could be a trophy for a musician of any upbringing. The immense sound of the opening is crushing, giving new meaning to atmospheric. Guitars whine and cry above a rumbling bass and thunderous drums, a simplistic yet powerful means of closure.

It isn't often that someone describes their music with a set of words, and captures everything that he or she does so perfectly. Viktor Jonas has done just that with his "Progressive Doom/Death Metal" tag. His Apathy project embodies what progressive music can be, taking the doom and death metal genres in a different, more melodic and well constructed direction than his contemporaries. Viktor Jonas isn't a rock star. He is a musician. With every strum of the strings, press of a button, touch of a key, or twist of a knob, he is giving of himself for your enjoyment. And "Ghost Light" is the man himself, written into musical form.


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