Apis – Awaking
(S/R – 2018)
Austrian metal hotshots, Apis apply some serious meat with this second album. Having had a blast load of their debut's ammo, it's already easy enough to learn that this Leoben fivesome mean business with a big clawed fist extended your way.
Opening track 'Killing Glance' is simply an fast old fashioned heavy metal track without frills hanging off either side. Taking it more than a degree faster still, the title track thrashes out in a very convincing Bay-area influenced flavour with a resemblance to a more subtle Robb Flynn by vocalist Andreas Krammer already established long enough to hear. 'Straight Ahead' and 'The Year Without a Summer' are strongly progressive-tilted tracks with upper-switch tempo a lot of their way, and some amiable guitar work from Gunter Neuhold driving this train from both front and behind.
Restless Night is a ruthlessly Iron Maiden-shaped rager routing into one of those strongly distinctive continental chorus vocal harmonies and then onward into a speed metal backed solo interlude. 'The Never Born' is a harsh switch to Motorhead settings and if eager guess which of the classics the verse resembles I recommend you just treat yourself to a sample (Lemmy will be looking down and smiling). With a chorus that stomps and swings repeatedly at you in the band's own shaping, it slows you down enough to (not) prepare for 'Awaking II', an in-your-face prog-thrasher that starts at the top, goes down the speedometer step by step then sends its own needle straight back up, peppering some further early Maiden rhythm work on the end.
'Hand Is No Fist' finishes the album as it started, a powerful hard rock cut with a wide sized melodic chorus that stays about enough to capture you before carrying on elsewhere. Krammer's vocal sustains are superbly of the kind he's been waiting to keep to the end but in general this album is a generous surprise. Straight cut old school traditional metal, the stuff of ridicule in the UK, is still revered highly in Europe and with 2018 having seen them open for legends Dragonforce and Lacuna Coil on the back of this offering, these lads have been around long enough already to not worry about having the erm…. A-pis taken out of them.
By Dave Attrill
RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Slayer, Judas Priest, Motorhead & Metallica.