Review Summary: Coil's last album, and while it might not be for casual listeners, it's still a quintessential Coil release that is perfectly haunting, depressing, and mortifying
It’s almost certain that Coil has remained one of the most influential Industrial bands ever, and their final album ‘The Ape of Naples’ (along with their debut and other various LP’s) certainly explain why. They were a group that influenced Industrial music (along with the sole starters of them all, Throbbing Gristle) to the extreme, and formed the entire sound as to what it was/is known for, back in the 70’s/80’s. As well as that, the band is perfectly accessible to anyone and is not as vigorous and brutal as some Industrial can get. Their sound can rotate from Psychedelic music, Electronic music, and even touches of ambient drone, each differentiating themselves nicely. But really, the sound on ‘The Ape of Naples’ is unimaginative bliss, and is easily one of (if not!), their best album. It’s a depressing masterpiece which is unquestionably perfect for rainy days.
As just explained, this album is far more depressing/gloomy compared to their other albums. But really, that’s understandable considering one of Coil’s members Jhonn Balance shortly died after this album was made. His death was imminent in the first place, but no one (I don’t think even Peter Christopherson), knew that he would go so quick. To narrow this album’s theme down for you to exact though, it’s a collection of funeral songs (and trust me, they aren’t bad at all) dedicated to Jhonn himself, whose death was held on November 13, 2004.
The basic principal of this album, or what it’s trying to convey, is overcoming the loss of a loved one and one you will deeply miss forever. Because of that, it’ll more than likely make you appreciate this album twice as more. There is a lot of beautifully haunting organs and heartwarming vocals here as well, ones that will make you reflect on the pass, or make you think of life as a whole. Each track on here is somehow rewarding, in a sense where you’ll be left in a state of mind afterwards. Whether your mind has been exhilarated or you’re left in a foggy state of depression, The Ape of Naples
will manage to somehow affect you emotionally.
Most tracks here are very simple; they aren’t overly done with 5 different synthesizers, effects, and noise loops. Instead, they are achieved with just a few bells, organs, and of course vocals (one track even including an accordion). Because of this, the songs won’t take multiple listens for them to fully settle down in your brain, they’ll more than likely click on your first listen. Really though, it depends. ‘The Ape of Naples’ (well Coil in general) is an album that is an acquired taste, and if you haven’t heard much from it, you probably won’t enjoy what is delivered in your eardrums. Luckily if you’re a fan of desolate yet comforting music, this album might be just for you.
This is definitely Coil’s most mature album to date, and features some of their most meaningful, well-thought out material/tracks. One song that I can shake up in my head is ‘The Last Amethyst Deceiver’, which is driven by a woozy, dreamy synthesizer and a few majestic bells/chimes heard here and there. Peter’s lyrics here are also brilliant, him talking about “deaths of vultures” when it really means he misses Jhonn. ‘Tattoo Man’ is completely accordion centered, with more grisly lyrics:
There’s a man lying down in the bed somewhere
With a different set of sex aspects
And I hate him I hate him….
That is probably the darkest thing you’ll ever uncover with the album. ‘Amber Rain’ is another dreary track, but with a truly unbelievable vocal performance by Peter himself. He harmonizes the song so perfectly that it makes for one of the most memorable experiences on the album. A Middle Eastern flute is tangled up with the track in the latter half of it too, and it’s soft and comforting as usual.
‘Triple Sun’ is a jazz tinged song mixed in with a few tubular bells, and Peter’s voice sounds rather distant and blurry. ‘Cold Cell’ is easily the darkest on the album, one because of the frightening lyrics, and terrorizing melody that will leave you breathless. The song feels like you are sitting on a wood block in the middle of the night in the woods, just thinking. The song is definitely one of the best on the album.
By now, Coil should have affected you someway, or moved
you. If not, then the album is obviously not for you. It shows a completely new side of Coil, and is a fantastic album dedicated to Jhonn Balance, or anyone that has lost a loved one in general. Admittedly the album is not for casual listeners, but if you have the correct set of ears for it, and sit down with a nice pair of headphones and listen to it, it’ll be a great experience. The album is perfect on rainy days, just sitting by the window thinking aimlessly and aimlessly. This album is unquestionably admirable and is sadly the last album by the band.
The Last Amethyst Deciever
Fire of the Mind
RIP Peter and Jhonn