It may have taken more time than other releases to fully persuade the passions of its triumph of black hearted intensity, but Apex Terror from French extreme metallers Otargos emerges as a rather compelling and impressive fury. A ferocious and intrusive expanse of black metal bred malevolence with numerous additional essences, the nine track release moves from an initially satisfying encounter to something with deeper and strong substance to its presence. It is not may be an album to challenge ‘Best of’ candidates come the end of the year but as an exploratory and creative beast of venomous intent, Apex Terror is a very appetising and striking confrontation.
Formed in 2001, Otargos has consistently pushed themselves and their dark imagination through their albums and sound. Their debut album Ten-Eyed Nemesis of 2005 alerted people to the band’s promise with Kinetic Zero two years later and subsequent releases, Fuck God-Disease Process in 2009 and No God – No Satan the following year reinforcing and enhancing their evolving presence and craft. Apex Terror moves things on further again, the band leaning into a heavier, antagonistic persuasion which leaves deep imprints with its commanding unrelenting intensity and toxic invention.
Released through Listenable Records, Apex Terror seduces ears and thoughts as it set things off with the opening of its title track. A brewing ambience washes ominously over the senses with military rhythmic rifling adding to the impending threat, an intimidation soon in full intent through the increasing pressure of riffs and even stronger enslaving drum rallies. Eventually at full stretch and fury, the track is a tempest of unbridled rhythmic barracking and carnivorous riffery veined with a sonic colour which lights thoughts as potently as the intense provocation. With industrial elements adding their lures to the black cast storm and melodic flames licking at the raw nerves induced by the ruinous aggression, the song is a mighty entrance into the album which awakens a certain hunger for it and its successors.
The following Fleshless-Deathless prowls around the ear next, chugging riffs and grisly vocals leading the scowling temptation as again sonic endeavour and invention scores the senses as melodic adventure colours the intensive narrative. There is an insidious air to the deliberately labouring consumption; a corruptive smog which pleasingly smothers the senses as the track leads right into the jaws of next up For Terra. Like the opener the song is a ravaging torrent of hungry riffing and energy punctuated by the ever impressive violent drum exploits. With a climactic atmosphere ebbing and flowing within the noxious beauty of the violation, the track is the first major pinnacle upon the album, a plateau amongst it has to be said numerous peaks within Apex Terror.
Through the likes of the predatory Remnant from a Long-Dead Star, its presence a lingering slowly infiltrating and satisfying toxicity, and the excellent intensely voracious Fallout with its industrial causticity an additional deleterious tempting to the equally riveting rapacious blackened vehemence, the release continues to impress and command whilst Drone and Aftermath Hyperion secure any last sense of resistance to the call of the album with their distinctly individual but mutually pathogenic enmity.
Versus provides the brooding finale to the album, its threatening slow introductory suasion evolving into a thrash lit deluge of superbly crafted hostility which leaves the album and passions on a major high. Apex Terror is an outstanding album, even if one missing that final spark to place it on the frontline of extreme releases taking to battle this year. In saying that Otargos has created an encounter which dares to be as bold in its invention and imagination as in its truculence, and that is always deserving of the fullest attention.
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