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Titans Eve - "Life Apocalypse" (CD)

Titans Eve - "Life Apocalypse" CD cover image

"Life Apocalypse" track listing:

1. Overcast (intro)
2. Destined To Die
3. Road To Ruin
4. The Abyss
5. Descension (instrumental)
6. Life Apocalypse
7. A Wound That Never Heals (instrumental)
8. Hollow Gods
9. Divided We Fall
10. Frozen In Time
11. The Void

Reviewed by on July 29, 2012

"One of a relative few genuine thrash albums you'll hear this year."

The words we use to describe music tend to evolve at as fluid and rapid a pace as the music itself, and in metal, the results are sometimes dubious. For better or worse, bands are perceived according to the language currently in vogue, and my wandering imagination often leads me to ponder whether certain artists would’ve provoked a more just and appropriate reaction had they emerged at another time in history. After all, countless “psychological thrillers” and “supernatural mysteries” are shoehorned into such euphemistic categories in a desperate attempt to flee the “horror” label, which, after decades of dumbing-down, conjures simple-minded images of masks, sharp weaponry, and dismembered limbs. Similarly, had Titans Eve released “Life Apocalypse” circa 1988, it would be considered a thrash classic – end of story – and thus an essential metal album.

Instead, I won’t be surprised if a growing army of listeners starts tossing everything but the kitchen sink at this Vancouver, BC foursome and their splendid sophomore album. Variants of traditional metal, modern metal, power metal, groove metal, melodic death metal, and even stoner metal may be cited. And guess what? It’s all true. That is why “Life Apocalypse” is one of a relative few genuine thrash albums you’ll hear this year, for the same reason the ‘80s thrash heyday is so fondly remembered: it was a spontaneous combustion of organically grown influences. Without a blueprint upon which to fall back, the pioneers thrust forward, and by doing the same with nary a shred of self-consciousness, Titans Eve has somehow managed to be more truly and satisfyingly “retro” – in all the right ways, for once – than any so-called “retro” thrashers yet.

Hardly a tangible category, it’s a sheer vibe that permeates up-tempo rippers like “Destined To Die,” lumbering, crowd-chanting bulldozers like “Frozen In Time,” and so much more. “The Abyss” swerves around a tight corner of blastbeats and screaming harmonics, casually evoking “The Jester Race” and other prime melodeath classics. “Hollow Gods” does the same while indulging in more than its share of Iron Maiden, including the album’s finest soloing. Guitarist/vocalist Brian Gamblin piles on a heaping of Motörhead with his shredded-throat, Lemmy-esque groan planted at the charming vocal junction between melody and aggression. This curious Motörhead vibe is felt most acutely on the title track, perhaps not coincidentally: “Life Apocalypse” is far and away the album’s classic tune, with killer riffs of such beautiful simplicity, and a chorus so memorable, that it requires two buffeting instrumental tracks to thoroughly brief and debrief the listener. Altogether, this valley-peak-valley arrangement is Titans Eve’s crowning triumph, and your most important reason to buy this album.

The basic conceptual thread running through “Life Apocalypse” is pretty much what the title suggests: the overwhelming threat of personal ruin, and the frenzied stew of cathartic emotions accompanying it – externalized through violent, destructive imagery. Björn Goosses’ cover art gorgeously summarizes these themes with cinematic effectiveness, recalling Peter Weir’s 1977 classic “The Last Wave” and the recent indie gem “Take Shelter.” However, the use of the word “apocalypse” in these melodramatic, doom-and-gloom-obsessed times, where every unfortunate occurrence is now treated almost literally as “the end of the world,” no longer packs any significant punch. It’s the only dull semantic arrow in Titans Eve’s quiver, to say nothing of the music itself, which never loses an ounce of steam, and is the real star of the show.

Highs: "Life Apocalypse," bracketed by instrumentals "Descension" and "A Wound That Never Heals," comes off more as a complete musical movement than a mere song.

Lows: While capturing the spirit of the times the way art should, the turgid doomsday themes are still a dime a dozen in metal, and slightly unbecoming for an album otherwise devoid of clichés.

Bottom line: A carefully arranged collection of refreshing, superior metal songs that just happens to be a "thrash" album.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)