"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Ape - "Survival Of The Fittest" (CD)

Ape - "Survival Of The Fittest" CD cover image

"Survival Of The Fittest" track listing:

1. It's All My Fault (This Time) (6:24)
2. It's Not (3:56)
3. Messin' Around With Love (4:46)
4. Survival Of The Fittest (2:36)
5. Beyond The Depths Of Reality (5:53)
6. So Lonely (5:04)
7. Irate Primate (4:03)
8. How You Left Me (4:32)
9. Friend Or Foe (5:00)
10. Barred (6:40)

Reviewed by on May 5, 2009

"Ape epitomizes music that rocks, even if it doesn’t fit prettily into one genre."

Remember the days before music got pigeon-holed into a million genres and sub-genres, when a song either rocked or sucked? Well, Canadian heavy rock/metal group Ape epitomizes music that rocks, even if it doesn’t fit prettily into one genre. Their first major release (they recorded a demo, but it never made it big), "Survival Of The Fittest," is a great listen for anyone who likes their music melodic but aggressive.

Keeping away from the extremes of symphonic or death metal, Ape throws just about everything else into the pot. Vocalist and guitarist Everett Mason manages to pull off the kind of guitar shreds that made glam metal a household term, while also providing good, almost poppy vocals. The lyrics are simple and rhyming for the most part, but the punk influence and occasional feedback make these less than always clean lyrics the kind you want to shout along with. Add to that the intermittent thrash tempo, and the album has some definite headbanging potential.

"So Lonely" is a perfect example of how Ape likes to start things a little light, slowly building in tempo and tension, as a song moves from hard rock into almost speed level thrash. Even the final track, "Barred," which starts out more mellow than the rest of the album, and sounds a bit like a Motley Crue ballad, ends with a breakdown that is pure thrash.

Ape also plays around a bit with funk, sleaze, and blues, testing the waters in "It’s Not," before immersing themselves into the style in the instrumental piece, "Irate Primate." Though there probably was no need for a second instrumental track, "Irate Primate" isn’t just a waste of recording time, and the combination of funky bass and spiraling, almost power metal guitar is a good mix.

"Messin’ Around With Love" begins with a sound that you envision if Guns ‘n Roses and Bowling For Soup collaborated, but then moves into edgier territory, taking up the banner of punk distortion and yelling. By the end of the song, you’re convinced that this is a band you definitely need to see live. There’s also a tiny bit of punk instrumental mixed with thrash in "Beyond The Depth Of Reality," which at first I thought was a relatively weak track, but the ending definitely changed my opinion.

There aren’t really any bad songs on "Survival Of The Fittest," though the vocals in "It’s All My Fault" are a bit rushed, and the drums could have done more in "Friend Or Foe," where they seem more like an afterthought. Regardless, for those who like melodic metal, Ape is a fantastic choice.

Highs: Lots of shred and thrash mixed with melodic vocals.

Lows: Rushed vocals on "It’s All My Fault," and not enough drum input in "Friend Or Foe."

Bottom line: A good, aggressive album for those who like their metal of the melodic variety.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)