Friday, December 16, 2011

Thou Art Lord - Apollyon (1996)

Thou Art Lord should have been one of the elite bands of the entire Hellenic Black Metal scene. Their 1994 debut album, Eosforos, was one of the best record to ever come out of that region. Unfortunately, the band failed to properly follow up on this offering. Released in 1996, Apollyon simply does not capitalize on the momentum of their first album. This was a critical juncture in the band's career and their inability to deliver when it counted may have had something to do with the fact that their sophomore release was followed by six years of inactivity.

Musically, Apollyon is very inconsistent. Whereas the first album flowed well and maintained the same style, throughout, this one is all over the place. Songs like "Hate Is Thicker Than Love" and "Experimental Magic" are fairly straightforward and carry on the Hellenic Black Metal style, quite well. The former is actually a very intense and memorable track. However, some of the material sounds as if it was performed by a different band. "Prelude to the Apocalypse" seems like Thou Art Lord's take on Unleashed-inspired Death Metal. "He Who the Gods Hath Feared" is an esoteric instrumental piece, that really has nothing to do with the overall vibe of the album. "Societas Satanas" is dominated by a Black / Thrash feeling that would have fit in better on a Zemial record, though it is infiltrated by clean vocals and annoying keyboards. The final tracks, "Moonscar" and "In Blood We Trust", demonstrate a Celtic Frost influence that is not heard elsewhere. Of course, there are more typical Hellenic riffs mixed into most of these tracks, but there is nothing consistent about the style or quality of the material. Not only would one have a difficult time in determining whether or not all of these songs belonged on the same album, but it is even harder to tell that it is the same band that recorded the brilliant Eosforos.

The production is a little more harsh, lacking the thicker sound that was found on the previous album. The guitar tone is thinner and more dry, which adds kind of a sterile feeling to the music. In a way, it sounds rather hollow. This is further complicated by the fact that the drum machine is much more obvious than on the previous release. It is still underground and tracks like "Experimental Magic" actually benefit from the sound, but it is too much of a departure from the band's previous work. Not only is the material weaker, but the production comes off as if it is trying to emulate the northern sound, to an extent. The problem is that the songwriting does not really support this type of approach. There is an overall inconsistency that plagues the album, as if the songs were recorded during different sessions.

Apollyon features a few really good songs that are certainly worth hearing, yet the rest of the material is so poor that it is impossible to recommend this album unless you find it for only a couple dollars. It is unclear what Thou Art Lord was attempting to do with this record, but it is safe to say that they failed.