Type: CD Company: Nuclear Blast Release: 2005 Genre: Power Reviewer: Eric Compton Published: 2/28/2005
For fans who may need a bit of diversity
The Apocalyptic Riders - Samurai - 2005 - Nuclear Blast
1. Silence Of Sorrow 2. Rock 'n' Roll 3. Hey-Ho 4. Wahnsinn 5. Eruption 6. Der Teufel 7. Reitermaniacs 8. Barmherzigkeit 9. Per Apera Ad Astra 10. Lazy Day 11. Die Sonne Scheint 12. Roll My Heart 13. Northern Lights
Well I have decided to take a short hiatus from my Greek metal spinning to concentrate on a new release from label superpower Nuclear Blast. The Apocalyptic Riders, often referred to as Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, gallop into my living room from Germany, bringing with them a new disc of melodic stomping mayhem. "Samurai" marks the group's seventh release and the second for Nuclear Blast. I have only gotten one previous opportunity to ride with these Apocalyptic show boaters, that was on their '99 trip "Allegro Barbaro". At that time I was more focused on lost gems from the 80s and 90s and never devoted much time to the group. I've sidestepped three of the band's releases since then and now I am down to business once again, checking in to see how much the group has improved and how different their sound has transformed.
The band has certainly seen different playing fields through their career, from the underground streets of Ars Metalli Records through the Netherlands with Hammerheart Records/Karmageddon Media. Through the different stages of their existence the band has experimented quite often. From progressive elements to the extreme corners of metal, The Apocalyptic Riders have often embraced diversity and multiformity. With this 2005 release the group have experienced some personnel changes as well. This new lineup is made of Fuch (vox), Dr. Pest (keys), Volk-man (bass, vox), Pitrone (guitar), and Sir G. (drums). Whether it is the new lineup or simply the sands of time, this new version of Apocalypse is certainly a much brighter and more energized stable than the one I experienced six years ago."Samurai" could really be looked at in very different ways. For folks that like their albums slightly more uniform and solid, then this record may buck you off. Others who enjoy albums that really don't have one specific vibe or focus, then look no further than this recording. I am sort of caught in the middle between those two mindsets. I like my albums to follow a certain format or basic structure, with the album held together with a common goal. I like cohesive parts that all work towards one purpose. On the other hand I find that those types of albums don't quite have the staying power. I find myself running through those releases within a week and then shelving them for six to eight months. So perhaps The Apocalyptic Riders are riding into town to wrong the injustices of my playing rotation?
The Apocalyptic Riders or Die Apokalyptischen Reiter really have a unique approach to their delivery. At times this record amazes me with its melodic, death metal flavoring, recalling the finest moments of Soilwork and Dark Tranquility. Look at opener "Silence Of Sorrow" to echo that statement. The band create a turbulent affair built on chaotic, fast, crunchy strings and extreme vocals. Just like the bands I mentioned, this group rises to the occasion with some well placed keys and melodic atmosphere to slow things down and bring in a Gothenburg sprinkling for effect. "Rock 'n' Roll" steamrolls through town in much the same vein as early pioneers like Dominus and Gorefest. The band uses some bluesy styled guitars that get down and dirty with rock and roll charm. "Hey Ho" follows in much the same direction, creating a macabre sort of stadium rock with its anthem chorus.
However "Samurai" doesn't keep that vibe for long. The middle part of the album is a totally different story, sounding like a totally different band at times. From the gothic gardens of "Wahnsinn" to the loudblast soundscape of "Der Teufel", diversity seems to be the one common goal. "Wahnsinn" is built from the same engine as bands like Theatre Of Tragedy and Lacuna Coil. The track builds with speed and deathy vibrations and really sticks true to form with many symphonic styled groups. "Eruption" flows with many punk references, adding in a huge amount of gothic delivery reminiscent of Sisters Of Mercy and Bauhaus. "Der Teufel" recalls the finest moments of early Moonspell, with the group creating a vision of funeral parlors and castles by moonlight. Of course I have no idea what the hell they are saying because the songs are both a mix of German and English. I told you these guys were different, which is a good thing in this situation. "Reitermaniacs" and "Barmherzigkeit" gets back to the business of the first part of the album, and then things take a shift back to faster symphonic styled formats with "Per Aspera Ad Astra". The last section of the album finishes up with three ambient styled tracks in "Lazy Day", "Roll My Heart", and "Northern Lights". The only faster cut at the end is "Die Sonne Scheint", which hints at Swedish power and glory.
With my reunion drawing to a close, I must say that this band has really improved musically. I enjoy artists that provoke thought and constant guessing. These guys create a pattern by not creating a pattern. The songs just flow in whatever direction, whether it is gothic styled poetry or simply the harsh wastelands of grinding melodic death. "Samurai" is a warm welcome for fans such as myself who may need a bit of diversity to keep their eyes and ears open to other shops and avenues. This is a talented band that really showcase their ability to entertain an audience. Maybe I will saddle up with The Apocalyptic Riders more often.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details