CHESTCRUSH- Apechtheia (Review)
Written by: The Administrator
Let's get the obvious out of the way. If you're reading a review for a band called, erm, Chestcrush, and haven't yet mentally and physically prepared to have your sternum mercilessly shattered and ground down into the finest of bonemeal, you might want to swiftly backpedal into calmer waters. Two parts of this three-track monstrosity are perhaps the most belligerent and violent manifestations of the Chestcrush approach to date, which is saying something if you are familiar with their prior work.
Indeed, Apechtheia is as crushingly malevolent as 2021’s stellar Vdelygmia. The aggression displayed is frankly pretty stunning. However, on this latest, the stakes feel grander and the violence at play feels more calculated, more sinister. The tracks are certainly longer, trading the comfort of familiar song structure for more expansive odysseys through grinding blackened death and, perhaps more uncomfortable, a viciously introspective brand of nihilism. Apechtheia is progressive in the sense that it truly feels like a deliberate progression beyond that which came before. It feels like a genuine maturation.
As anyone reasonable might expect, the first track, "Misery. Decline. Death,” is a grisly affair. The tremelos are burlier than you can imagine, laden with a slow-moving aggression befitting an apex predator that simply exists without the need for urgency. That said, the track never plods, and the brutal assault isn't shy when it comes to plastering on the drama. "Misery. Decline. Death” takes a poignant turn at the midway point wherein the tempo slows, the stakes raise, and the underlying weight feels somehow even more immeasurable. No bones about it: this is a track worth getting invested in. Somehow, though, followup "The Despiser" sounds more grandiose, more monstrous. It's an absolutely nasty song across its mighty breadth, and the heaving riffs paired with rolling double bass lends significant credence to the implied and/or promised chestcrushing. Here, the percussion is relentlessly pugilistic, popping all all the right places. The vocals are behemothian. The production is near perfect.
Neither of these tracks present an easy listen by standard metrics, but holy hell, their combined 18+ minutes are endlessly engrossing. It might not be the most approachable EP, but that doens't mean I haven't listened on repeat for the better part of two weeks. Cliché, I know, but if I do have a complaint, it is that the meat of the release is over far too swiftly.
Apechtheia does feel uniquely segmented from an standard Act I/Act II/Act III perspective. The closing track, “Repression,” presents an approach so foreign that it feels, on the surface, like a completely different band's contribution. Traditional metal extremity is traded for vague atmospheric passages and the occasional clang, and while the aggression is maintained, it feels much more personal. Nearly self-inflicted. That's not, I hasten to add, to say it is a bad track. Indeed, I think “Repression” succeeds magnificently at creating an overarching sense of overarching nihilistic dread. From a structural standpoint, I did initially wonder if the more sonically subtle approach would have had more impact if placed betwixt the more outwardly aggressive tracks, serving as an uneasy interlude rather than a conclusion. However, after a few additional listens, I do think that having it serve as a contemplative outro affords the track its own focus and identity. It's a smart inclusion, and frankly makes the album feel complete in an unpredicted fashion. It's a tad long for my admittedly abysmal attention span, but that's not a metric worth measuring by.
As both a standalone and an exercise in evolution, Apechtheia works very well as a sophomore release. The ambitiously elongated tracks feel markedly more monolithic, and demonstrate an admirable willingness to try something new after the success of their debut. It's worth noting that both releases are essentially the same length, but this latest effort feels more like a collective statement. And shit, Vdelygmia was a damn fine album in its own right.
Chestcrush continues to impress. There’s no doubt in my mind that they are one of the more interesting blackened death metal outfits in the current era, and if their penchant for rapid maturation is any indication, they are going to stay in the upper echelon for some time.
Chestcrush - Apechtheia was independently released on Nov. 1st, 2022. Find it here!
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.