Review Summary: In the crowded flock of alternative metal, Lightpost manages to shine brighter than the average release.
The Apex Theory have a complicated history. Forming from somewhat humble beginnings they eventually released their major label debut album “Topsy-Turvy”, the album was met with moderate success with single “Shhh... (Hope Diggy)” receiving a fair amount of air time. However soon after vocalist Ontronik Khachaturian decided to leave the band, eventually even after numerous auditions guitarist Art Karamian took over vocal duties for the band’s future endeavours. From here on however The Apex Theory had already started fading into obscurity before a sophomore release could be recorded and distributed. After two EP releases the band decided to change their name to Mt. Helium and finally released their follow up album, sadly it was released to very little fanfare despite being a fairly impressive release and eventually the band petered out leading to their slow unceremonious break up. The band’s style shows an eclectic mix of influences and genres, primarily being described as alternative metal mixed with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Near Eastern music. On occasion this would present a sweeping majestic tone as an undercurrent of their music, however in their later work as a three piece it’s apparent that the focus had shifted. No longer was this being fixated to an occasional present undercurrent but being brought to the forefront with an expansion into more progressive territories. Nowhere in their discography is this more apparent than with “Lightpost”.
Lightpost was the last EP from The Apex Theory and its new progressive traits are set forth from the get go with Lightpost being a singular fifteen minute track, divided into five separate movements. This setup already creates expectations that need to be met in order for a release like this to work. The need for constant engagement and attention from the listener is needed throughout otherwise it will come across as padded and boring, there’s also the task of making each movement connect seamlessly into a cohesive work that is better off for being crafted as a singular track rather than it being simply done for novelty. Many bands have tried and failed in crafting a work such as this, however in this instance it mostly works in The Apex Theory’s favour.
The first movement “Awkward Nerve” sets off on a blazing trail following a brief softly picked guitar intro as frantic drumming, thick bass and fast guitar set the scene for Art’s repeatedly sung lines of “Get out, no you don’t need to know”. All of this combines to create an immediately engaging introduction to Lightpost, however it’s this introductory movement that demonstrates also some of the areas where the EP is lacking. The major issue with Lightpost is that certain sections can feel drawn out, carrying on for longer than necessary which in turn creates mild fatigue for the listener. The repeated lines demonstrate this point fairly well, that being said however this only happens on rare occasions in each movement and there is enough variety to mitigate some of the repetition that the EP does have. When discussing The Apex Theory there’s usually always the comparison of the different vocalists. Ontronik Khachaturian demonstrated some fairly unique vocal abilities that made each track vary from being traditionally sung to fast paced rap-esque verses, which gave The Apex Theory a more interesting sound. Art Karamian however sings in a more direct and standard manner on every track which logically should make The Apex Theory sound more homogenous. However there’s one thing that Art demonstrates prominently in his vocals which makes him a superior vocalist as a result, emotion. Nowhere is this more apparent than within the third movement “Audition” where his soft almost quaking vocals envelope the listener in a thick layer of melody and atmosphere that is only enhanced with some outstanding usage of yodelling to further accentuate the quivering tone of the vocal performance. The atmosphere is maintained throughout the EP fantastically thanks to the solid instrumental performance, with the delicate guitar littering each movement providing the sweeping majestic tone previously mentioned. The drums thunder along the track with brief intervals of percussion to support the melody and the bass work remains heavy whilst slowing down to sound sensual within softer sections. All of this amassed together creates an instrumentally tight package that creates a wonderful sense of atmosphere.
The Apex Theory’s final EP release proves to not only be a successful feature length singular track, but also proves to be their finest work to date. If only the light post hadn’t dimmed so quickly…