Apex Predator - Heathen Hardest


(Andrew, 28.04.2016)

I’m struck sometimes by the granularity of the significance it’s possible for seasoned fans to read into the imagery metal bands drape themselves in. Without having heard a note of their music beforehand, nor having been the least bit familiar with their members’ history, there was just something about the way InfiNight’s Apex Predator presented itself that was profoundly off-putting to me. It’s a combination of things that jump out at you only after years immersed in the fine details of a niche subculture. The band name is a good place to start, an insufferably pleased-with-itself, double-capitalised portmanteau rendered in the kind of spiky, graffiti-ready logo custom-made to be replicated in the jotter margins of disgruntled 15-year-olds. And then there’s the slate-grey album cover, some sort of unpleasant, muddy three-way hybrid of StratovariusNemesis, the opening shots of “Blade Runner” and a particularly grim day in Merseyside. With all that in mind, I was bracing myself for a drab, joyless ordeal of an album situated somewhere between Lamb of God and Nevermore.

So it was with a sense of pleasant surprise—what was that idiom they drilled into us in school? “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”—that what was contained on the disc wasn’t the snotty, snide affair I’d feared, but rather an earnest, heart-on-sleeve, even Romantic cut of classical heavy/power metal. And it wasn’t half-bad, either! More than anything, it reminded me of Blood & Iron’s Voices of Eternity, another underexposed album which shone through a dreary aesthetic exterior by dint of a sturdy rhythm section, a spirited lead vocal performance and a commitment to unpretentious, red-blooded heavy metal songwriting.


InfiNight’s core lineup, including guitarist Marco Grewenig, bassist Kai Schmidt and drummer Hendrik Reimann, have been playing together since the mid-90’s when they operated under the moniker of Inner Logic, and the band’s sound betrays that vintage. The evolution of heavy, power and speed metal can be perceived throughout like the rings in the cross-section of a tree – the legacy of Judas Priest, Queensrÿche and Fates Warning can be heard filtered through that of early Blind Guardian and Iced Earth.

Crunchy, percussive rhythm guitar and glimmering, piercing leads animate lengthy, sprawling tracks with a fierce spirit – a particular highlight is the seven-minute centrepiece “Everdown,” which successfully marries anthemic choruses and rabble-rousing riffwork to a stately, progressive structure – and yet they ensconce a deep vein of sentimentality. Tracks like the plaintive outro “Conquer Your Heart” and the ballad-esque “As Time Goes By” (not, as far as I can tell, a reference to “Casablanca”) make forthright appeals to the heartstrings. It’s largely to the credit of singer Martin Klein and his bright, clear, dignified delivery that these tracks feel of a piece with their metallic brethren rather than being hopelessly cheesy.

There is a certain workmanlike character to a work as essentially formulaic and derivative as Apex Predator —its bearing is less that of a genius or poet possessed of insights the rest of us lack than that of a committed and skilled tradesman who enjoys and takes pride in his work. But hey, isn’t it just such tradesmen who keep the world spinning from day to day? Apex Predator is worthy of better than its dull cover, an animated, potent piece of work that believes deeply in the uplifting, empowering spirit of classical heavy/power metal. When that sprit is increasingly hidden from public view, any expression of it ought to be cherished, especially one made with this sort of ability and care.

Writer: Andrew
Date: 28.04.2016
URL: https://heathenharvest.org/2016/04/28/infinight-apex-predator/


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