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Apogean – Cyberstrictive

Apogean – Cyberstrictive

Apogean - Cyberstrictive

I’m not sure what made me feel drawn to Apogean’s latest release, “Cyberstrictive”. It might have been the cool album title, might have been the cool artwork, might have been the fact that it’s tech-death, or it might be the fact that it was released through The Artisan Era. Yeah, it’s probably that last one. Regardless, I was quite excited to check it out and after a few listens, I can say my expectations were confirmed. This album does a great job of bringing some fresh and inventive ideas to death metal, without sacrificing any of the expected tropes of the genre. And although it presents itself as a participant to the new wave of tech-death, along the lines of Inferi, Beyond Creation or Obscura, I feel like it would also fit in a more old-school setting, against the likes of Nile or Cryptopsy. It’s not trying to be extra modern, but it won’t shy away from it either, and I feel like the end result is a well-balanced mixture of raw and visceral but also technical and virtuous sound.


As you’d expect from a tech-death album these days, “Cyberstrictive” is very blast-beat heavy, and offers a rich palette of noodly or progressive riffage. But the overall feeling isn’t that the music is fast, rather that it’s brutal and powerful. The beastly sound of the drums, the incredibly filthy vocals, and a good focus on groove when the time is right, all do a great job of balancing out the technical aspect and adding some moments of immediate gratification as can be heard on ‘Thousand-Yard Glare’ or ‘Hueman (The Pleasure of Burn)’. I also feel that the progressive or technical elements have expressive value by creating a chaotic sense which gives a back and forth between confusion and clarity, teasing the listener and then eventually giving a reward. The rhythmic intricacy also often feels like it builds up to the groovy payoff, but doesn’t actually always give it. Sometimes the metal elements are suddenly interrupted by atmospheric breaks. It’s an interesting way to keep the listener engaged and to keep the songs unpredictable. There is also a lot of shock factor in certain sliced, almost djenty moments backed by spurts of machine-gun drums (‘With Which Ear You’ll Listen’).

Apogean – Thousand – Yard Glare

The guitar lead sections are very satisfying. The solos bring a very exciting blend of shreddy and melodic and do not overstay their welcome. They are well integrated in the song structures and fitted against the given instrumental background, be it stable or shifting. I also get a slightly jazzy sense in certain lead parts (‘An(t)imus’). Lead sections don’t only come under the form of fully-fledged solos, but also sprinkles of sweeps or tapping melodies supporting behind the vocal lines (‘Distance (Of Walls and Wails)’).


The vocal delivery isn’t very surprising or diverse, but it offers everything the album needs and a few surprises. The main tone is a low, filthy sound that I associate quite strongly to Nile’s vocals. But certain parts bring some high-pitched goblinny screams, not quite as stereotypical as you’d see in deathcore, and still keeping a sense of depth and volume to the vocals. Muffled or robotic effects might also be placed on the vocals to fit certain atmospheric parts or ominous sections (‘Bluelight Sonata’). The one criticism I have towards the vocal parts is actually not regarding the performance, but the fact that long vocal sections are being repeated with the same lyrics, which at times makes some songs feel redundant. I have no problem with certain patterns repeating in a song but I feel like unless it’s a chorus, it could come with different lyrics the second time around as a ‘second verse’, although verse-chorus structures aren’t always hard to pinpoint in Apogean’s songs. The lyrics themselves seem to be dealing with themes like technological enslavement and psychological fallacies, falsity and God complexes. I think ‘Hueman’ is a criticism of postmodernism. The lyrics are overall not easy to interpret but they are quite badass to listen to, and the use of fancy words is very fitting for the cyber-cerebral vibe of the sound.

Apogean – Hueman

I have mentioned atmospheric sections as well. These are often created with use of sinister, cinematic orchestration. They aren’t very developed. Rather, they are used as brief intros, outros or interludes that set a tone for what’s to come, link ideas or fade out of what was played. Other elements that play into this vibe are clean guitar parts, alien sounding synth effects (‘Spinthariscope’), bass and the previously mentioned robotic vocal effects.


Overall, ‘Cyberstrictive’ is a solid death metal album with both raw and modern sounds coming together. It does a great job of flashing out technicality without making it the sole focus of the music, and still allowing room for expression, atmosphere and groove. I expect it will be a satisfying listen both for fans of straightforward death metal, and fans of more progressive or technical styles alike.

Track List:

  1. Bluelight Sonata (04:44)
  2. Thousand-Yard Glare (04:31)
  3. Distance (Of Walls and Wails) (05:04)
  4. With Which Ear You’ll Listen (04:18)
  5. Imposter Reborn (03:46)
  6. Within the Bounds of a Simile (03:21)
  7. Hueman (The Pleasure of Burn) (04:50)
  8. Polybius (02:22)
  9. Spinthariscope (04:14)
  10. An(t)imus (05:59)

About the Author

Andrei Dan

Born and raised in Romania, currently living and studying in the Netherlands, Andrei was introduced to both classic and modern prog at once when he discovered Symphony X and Intervals in 2015. He has quickly grown fond of all the sub-categories of metal but keeps a focus on progressive or innovative music. Most of his free time is spent keeping track of new artists or releases and visiting concerts.

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