(Andy Synn wrote this review of the just-released split by the German bands Ancst and King Apathy.)
If you’ve been hanging around NCS for a while you’ll doubtless be familiar, at least in passing, with the names Ancst and King Apathy.
Both are part of a loose-knit scene of Post/Black/Hardcore influenced Metal bands operating in and around Northern Germany, and both have been featured on this little blog of ours several times before, the most recent of which was my review of the latest Ancst EP, Furnace.
However, on the off chance that you don’t recognise the latter name perhaps it’s worth me pointing out that, until very recently, King Apathy were actually called Thränenkind, and released two albums under this particular moniker, the most recent of which (reviewed here) was itself called King Apathy.
Don’t be. All you really need to know is that both bands make some intensely emotional, and emotionally intense, music, and that they’ve now teamed up for a split EP.
Comprising four tracks in total, this split features two exclusive songs by each band, one a brand new, original composition, the other a carefully tweaked and reworked cover of their opposite number.
Of the two originals, “Gehenna of Fire” and “Disguise”, the former is marginally the better of the pair, though both tracks offer up a wealth of thrills and spills along the way.
“Gehenna of Fire” finds Ancst mixing the two, previously quite disparate, aspects of their identity – raging blackened bruisers and ambient sonic soundsculptors – into one unexpectedly cohesive whole, building from an extended intro of spacey synth-drone into a moody metallic maelstrom of bruising blasts and thundering kicks, apoplectic vocals, and rippling, muscular riffs.
While “Disguise” finds King Apathy delving even further into the emotion-driven, Hardcore-influenced side of their sound (with a few bleaker, more atmospheric touches incorporated for good measure) in a way that should, hopefully, finally stop people tagging them as Post-Black Metal, and instead start appreciating them on their own terms.
As good as both these songs are, though, the real fun of this EP – for long-term fans at least – is hearing how each band approaches and reinterprets the work of their colleagues, putting their own particular spin on things while still retaining the essence of the source material.
Hearing Ancst rip through a extra-blasty and extra-pissed off version of the eponymous (or should that be pseudo-eponymous?) “King Apathy”, for example, is bound to bring a smile to many a face, as, while the band play it relatively straight overall, the extra dose of punkish aggression and blackened intensity they bring to the table definitely changes the track’s overall feel.
The real treat however is King Apathy’s less frantic, but more expansive, version of “Entropie” (one of my favourite Ancst tracks), which shaves off a few BPM in order to allow the song more room to blossom and breathe, simultaneously giving the original a new lease of life while also reminding you that KA can still “go” when they put their minds to it.
Ultimately this split is a perfect primer for both bands and their particular brand of self-aware and self-contained metallic invective. So why not give it a try next time you have a few spare minutes? What do you have to lose?