Apophis - _Heliopolis_
(Morbid, 1998)
by: Paul Schwarz (7 out of 10)
Despite the Egyptian styled (though somewhat poor) cover artwork, Apophis are not, as I initially suspected, a clone of Nile. Apophis' sound has some grounding in the melodic Swedish death movement, but with deeper vocals than is typical for, say, In Flames, and less vitriol than those of the more brutal side -- A Canorous Quintet would be a prime example of this. Doom metal is an influence and affects the progression of their playing most; they use melodic chords, as opposed to the more percussive brutal death style, and tend to choose downward progressions. An overall comparison I found prominent was to Hypocrisy, on their last three albums. Apophis are not as skilled as Hypocrisy but they do attempt, and are sometimes successful in, combining keyboards, catchy riffs and melody. "Behold My Arrival" borrows from Hypocrisy without sounding like a rejected b-side, while "Reincarnation of the Serpent God" nails a catchy vocal line and backs it up with a solid riff in a Hypocrisy-reminiscent fashion. Overall, _Heliopolis_ mostly lacks sparkle -- by the time you are into the final ten or fifteen minutes it is beginning to drag and some of the songs suffer from being somewhat excessively long. Apophis nail some solid riffs, show overall technical proficiency and combine brutal playing with a good use of melody (including some pretty good, and often slow, lead guitar work). Unfortunately, Apophis don't excel sufficiently in any of the styles they choose to play to beat those who have come before them. So, when they augment a heavy riff with keyboards, for example, the thought that goes through my head is "It sounds good, but not as good as Nocturnus." Apophis have dared to set out on a difficult path, and for that I give them credit, but they are not finding the journey to be without difficulty. This is their third album; I haven't heard their first or second, and though they should be picking up the pace by now, I think _Heliopolis_ could be their final stepping stone to doing a truly worthwhile album.

Contact: Morbid Records, Postfach 3, 03114 Drebkau, Germany

(article published 13/2/1999)

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