Black Mark Production, 2003
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
1. Crowned in Thorns
2. Infernal Majesty
3. Cell 666
5. 7th Throne
6. Beneath the Lies of Prophecy
7. Reign of Chaos
8. Beauty of Death
I picked this album up off a whim because of a review I saw for it; however, the review was rather vague and didn’t really give me much insight into their particular style. For instance the review never even mentioned the fact that they played Symphonic Black Metal, just that it was Black Metal by good musicians with superb production. While the album is all that, the fact remains that these guys bear a very close resemblance to Dimmu Borgir. Now all my friends know I am not a very big fan of Dimmu Borgir aside from some of their earlier recordings (pre-Stormblåst), but regardless I am not a fan honestly. So it stands that Apostasy will not receive a very high praise from me for being a close copy of Dimmu Borgir. However, for those of you out there who are simply in love with the Dimmu Borgir style, you need to listen to Apostasy because their music is written so much better and with expert arrangements. Especially if you enjoyed the years of Dimmu Borgir with “Spiritual Black Dimensions” and prior to that release.
Okay, so now I assume everyone’s asking what makes them better and what the differences are. Now forget the fact that I’m not a Dimmu Borgir fan and rely on the fact that I know music so this should be a fairly accurate representation of what they’re doing different and better in my opinion. First noticeable difference is production, they have a much better production quality, and probably due to the fact this was recorded in 2003 which means technology is better and so on. Second thing I noticed was that the vocals are nearly the same. This has almost no difference at all and the guy seems to have learned to mimic Shagrath’s vocal performance almost to a T. This is an aspect that greatly disappointed me because if he did do a much different vocal arrangement then it would have given an entirely different feel to the music and possibly a more creative one. The keyboard work is what stood out more to me on this release because I found the keyboard arrangements much more interesting to listen to. Although, the song “Icon’s” keyboard intro is nearly identical to a Dimmu Borgir arrangement in "Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy" and then they sort of meshed it with "Towards Eternity" by Old Man's Child. Also later on in the song they have a sample of a phone ringing and someone answers it, but the sample is so far in the background I can’t figure out what the person said so it wasn’t a very well executed piece.
Now a major difference in the guitar arrangements is based around the fact that Apostasy does not use very many of those long slow moving passages that Dimmu Borgir overuses. They are present in the album, but it is not in every single song, which is one of the main reasons I get so bored while listening to Dimmu Borgir. Some songs have an extremely powerful guitar arrangement that really caught my ear such as in the songs “Reign of Chaos” and “Beauty of Death,” which I honestly hope is a direction Apostasy will head more in the future. That would then enable them to separate themselves from being compared to Dimmu Borgir. Although, they would still get compared, but it would be like they were taking the style Dimmu Borgir helped pioneer in a different direction. A very curious aspect of this album is that it is indeed Black Metal but only one song features a blast beat. While this really caught my ear because the drum lines never got completely boring and I found he managed to hold this together very well. Most people hear the name Black Metal dropped and will automatically think of blast beating on the drums, and these days it is starting to move away from that. Look at the release of the Thorns self titled album and there is not one blast beat on there, but it is still inherently a Black Metal album. Apostasy manages to put it together very well and in my opinion have released something better than Dimmu Borgir could. The songs flow together perfectly and there are no awkward transitions which are ever present in the newer Dimmu Borgir releases.
So as I mentioned above if you are not a Dimmu Borgir fan then stay away from this album altogether. However, you will appreciate the steps Apostasy has taken to refine the style especially if you are a musician. If you are a die hard Dimmu Borgir fan then I can urge you nothing more than to find this album and listen to it because you will truly appreciate it much more than I have.