They look like something out of a Behemoth video. Yet they sound almost exactly like Powerwolf. Faceless Euro symphonic metallers Apostolica have got me a little bit intrigued, it would be fair to say…
Unfortunately, the excitement doesn’t last long. Despite the fact that Apostolica aren’t actually bad – they do actually generate a bit of heat and light occasionally – after a couple of listens to Haeretica Ecclesia, the band’s opening statement of intent for Scarlet Records, the overwhelming feeling you get is that there’s not a great deal beyond the band’s self-generated air of mystique. A faceless band playing faceless music? That’s pretty much it.
Of course, if the band were breaking new ground musically, all the other sideshow barking becomes part of the allure. When Ghost first emerged, for instance, their carefully crafted mix of Mercyful Fate and Blue Öyster Cult on tracks like Ritual genuinely caused the pulse to race a little. You were happy to go along on the band’s ride, however ludicrous it seemed, eager to see where you, and they, would end up.
Here, the similarly-faceless Apostolica, who merely replicate the over-the-top Euro power metal stylings of Sabaton and Matthew Greywolf and company, spark no such feelings of wonder. Thanatos is bombastic, it contains a Maidenesque who-oh-oh refrain guaranteed to cause minor trouser quaking on the European festival circuit, and is well played and professionally executed. But that’s it. Because Pollution is My Name, which follows Thanatos, is broadly the same song, minus the who-oh-oh but with added church organ. As noted, there’s nothing actually wrong with this – individually there are tracks here you’ll probably add to your Spotify playlists and enjoy for days, maybe even weeks to come, but the album as a whole just doesn’t carry enough substance to withstand repeated listening.
Apostolica – whoever they are – have clearly put a lot of work into this project, and Scarlet Records appear to be preparing to give the act a major push, but at the end of the day unless you get genuinely fired up by identikit power metal it’s hard to see why you’d be shelling out for this.
Haeretica Ecclesia releases on September 17th.