Album Title: In Dusk Apparition
This is the first full-length CD from Vulpecula, an American band playing atmospheric death metal.
The sound on this album is thick and somewhat distant, as befits the outer space theme. The guitar and drums have about the same amount of volume, less than that of the whispered vocals. Space effects are used sparingly. There's plenty of bass here, as well, and it's just audible enough that you can pick out the notes. As a whole, the production gives the album a unified sound in which no single aspect stands out.
The songwriting on this CD is like a more avant-garde version of Chuck Keller's other bands, Order From Chaos and Ares Kingdom. Long, varied instrumentals trade off with eerie, detached vocal passages. The style is most reminiscent of death metal, but there are black metal touches and some heavy metal solos as well.
"Eltanin Shadowcast" starts off with some ambient effects, which lead into a distinctive guitar theme. This is one of the more memorable album lead-ins I've heard -- the guitar and drums slowly overwhelm the space sounds until only the metal is left. The melodic guitar and varied drumming of the main part of the song is augmented by some nice solos, and even a few chugging riffs. I especially like the vocals on this track -- they're understated, yet so personal that they seem both dispassionate and emotional at the same time.
"Celestial" is a more straightforward song, built around the progression of an aggressive central riff. The instrumental work really shines on this track, especially during the intro. About halfway through, the song speeds up into some thrashy shredding. The last two minutes or so are really outstanding.
The third song is a cover of Peter Schilling's early-80s tune, "Major Tom (Coming Home)". After the opening keyboard doodle, the bass and guitar do a good job of taking over the synth parts from the original... in fact, this is a remarkably faithful cover. Oddly enough, it still makes a pretty convincing metal song.
The beginning of "Culmination" has some quiet, declared vocals rather than the style on the rest of the record. On top of this, a repetitive guitar theme plays. The ending features layered samples of astronaut chatter, including a countdown and launch. Taken together, it's a moving tribute to space exploration.
I really like the bass and drum duet that starts off "In Dusk Apparition". The rest of the song combines nimble drumming and guitar work with urgent vocals. The solo here is the best on the album. This song seems to fade out before it really gets going, though.
I enjoyed Vulpecula's "Fons Immortalis", but this album is even better. The songwriting is crisp and clean, without a single wasted moment, even during the cover song. The band manages to be both introspective and heavy, as well. If you're interested in hearing a band with a unique sound and vision, get "In Dusk Apparition". That goes double for fans of Chuck Keller's other work, you won't be disappointed by this. Highly recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Eltanin Shadowcast", "Culmination"