Before the world was turned on its head, UK metallers Apollo Stands had already put a firm hand on attention and high praise through their releases and a potent live presence. Obviously the pandemic stopped them in their tracks in many ways but creatively it appears the Norwich hailing quintet embraced the freedom in entrapment and began exploring within. With the band’s new album as evidence it was a fertile and fruitful quest, Interstellar a fascinating and stirring slab of enterprise and adventure bound in their already proven enterprise rich sound but cast from a whole new realm of compelling enterprise and imagination.
Emerging in 2016, Apollo Stands quickly made an ear grabbing impact with debut album Join Us and subsequently through a live presence soon taking in shared stages with the likes of Megalomatic, Setraline, Eveline’s Dust and Fingers Crossed, as well as appearances at festivals such as Rockstock Festival, Trick Bag l, Volume 19 and Thrashersaurus. 2019 saw the unveiling of the Minds EP, an encounter embracing the continuing growth and invention within the band’s creativity. Now they return to ‘normality’ with Interstellar, a release which not only commanded intrigue and attention but swiftly demanded it.
It has never been so simple as to call the band just metallers though I guess that encapsulates the various flavours their sound embraces. Many have pounced upon a progressive metal tag, an understandable urge but again it only reflects certain aspects of certainly Interstellar. Within its songs let alone its whole body, the band merge classic and modern elements of metal and rock, equally infusing electronic, melodic death, melodic metalcore and much more. It emerges as a bold and unpredictable theatre of sound firmly individual to Apollo Stands, a gripping protagonist for the senses, imagination and as we soon found pleasure.
The mystery and darkness of opening instrumental Void soon set the imagination alight, its suggestion and drama a mix of tension, foreboding and seduction delivered with electronic tempting before its final drop into tenebrific limbo casts the doorway into the following Insolarus. From within that darkness the song emerges with a canter, celestial sighs wrapping djent hued, groove spun guitars. With that web of flavours in the band’s music already working its captivation, the vocals of Ry Hase riding their resourceful wiring, the track continually expanded its creative landscape. Melodic and feral essences unite as progressive and corrosive elements align, the vocals equally escalating their dynamics and enterprise within a quite superb encounter.
As replicated thereon in, the opener reveals itself one full drama of sound and imagination, the following Synthetic similarly taking the listener across a cinematically hued exploration. Electronic/industrial seeds spark its rise, tempestuous metal menace and compulsion soon joining the cauldron of sound woven by guitarists Olly Smith and Alexei Swatman, the latter’s keys weaving an elegant cloak across it all. Aggressive yet inherently seductive, the track twists and turns with every passing second, new textures and flavours emerging in its mercurial design. There is also a certain Faith No More essence to the song which capped the quickly and greedily devoured offering.
Pick Up is next, the track materializing from a chilled but inviting sonic mist as electronics shape technological scenery before voice and riffs reveal their tempestuous hearts. Barely a minute in and the song is a tapestry of styles and essences cast with dextrous agility, the rhythmic prowess of bassist Matt Hayward and drummer Edgar Taljaard a controlled trespass steering the persistently emerging tempest. Once more the vocals and presence of Hase commands keen attention but equally every aspect of the band and track provided a grip that ears and appetite could not escape.
The planetary lures of Please Wait immediately captured ears and as they are swiftly joined by the peril and menace of riffs and senses punching rhythms, the track only escalated its temptation. Groove and alt metal spirals entangle in the subsequent death and progressive inclinations, the song soon grabbing favourite track honours in its jaws as the beast continued to compel lust and addiction through its unexpected twists and contrasting aspects and dilemmas.
Through mellow radiance to its emotive turbulence, Hive equally enthralled and sparked a hungry appetite, its radiance combustible and drawing out predacious sonic uproars bred in emotional dissonance and rapacious shadows. Yet there is a beauty to it which never relents, a siren-esque quality which draws the listener and imagination upon its explosive rocks before making way for The Arbiter.
The album closer snarls and chews on the senses with punk metal ferocity and groove metal nagging but again is an eddy of flavours and ravenous enterprise alongside that surge. The track epitomises the variety and craft making up Interstellar and its quality of imagination and adventure.
The final words of the album’s press release claims “Apollo Stands are ready for the forefront of the UK scene” and find no reason to challenge that suggestion.
Intertellar is out now.
Pete RingMaster 11/11/2021
Copyright RingMaster Review