ALBUM REVIEW: Apes – Penitence

At this point, anything Extreme Metal that comes from Canada is sure to be a punishing, gruesome affair. It’s as automatic a thing as a Canuck apologizing for merely existing.

Apes fit that bill, and do so with a finesse and caring touch that can be identified from start to finish on Penitence (Secret Swarm Records). Armed with twenty-five minutes of blackened grindcore with influences ranging from sludge, doom, hardcore, and groove, the six-piece(!) fire on all cylinders to create hopeless turmoil.

It’s such a comforting dose of melancholic bluster, and the drums in particular can tumble off a cliff or effortlessly weave a tapestry of groove on the fly. There is a sinister pallor hanging over (thanks also to mastering via Will Putney of Fit For An Autopsy) that imbues a rancid hue into the mix.

Vocalist Alexandre Goulet’s mighty arsenal includes alluring screams; emotive and pained shouts; and forceful, believable cries for help or a finality to the misery and suffering. They’re flat-out deranged (“Bottom Feeder,” “Penitence”) and also quite artistic, having designed the morose artwork, as well.

The punchy dynamic on “Coffin” combines a litany of Extreme Metal tropes and is elevated by vocals from Madi Watkins (Year Of The Knife), once more proving that steel does in fact sharpen steel.

Likewise, the musicianship and songwriting panache cannot be overlooked. “The Great Fire” boasts sludgey chugs before impassioned shouts lead the instrumentals into a grim den of evil. The pacing of the title track is turned down with a doomy leaning, whilst “Pillars” takes clear inspiration from Hardcore riffing.

The production of the percussion pops and bites throughout, creating a landscape which is pockmarked with liquid waste, but also surrounded by blooming flora.

Penitence unquestionably improves with each additional listen-through, but it’s also apparent from the very start. Apes possess a demeanor that is equal parts contagious and fucking goated. There seems to be nothing this band can’t mix into their sound every note is played with vigor and confidence.


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9 / 10