Apparently not ones to rest on the acclaim afforded their debut album, Vancouver thrashers Titan's Eve are back just over a year later with their sophomore effort Life Apocalypse. The Titan's Eve sound can be described - at least on this release - as a swirling tempest of classic and modern thrash elements. Black metal, hardcore, and even Viking metal influences emerge from the maelstrom to give Life Apocalypse a wide-ranging appeal among fans of aggressively heavy music.
The overall melodic qualities of Life Apocalypse will attract thrash fans with more practiced ears. "Destined To Die", the first song after a brief instrumental intro, is built upon a highly infectious chorus and superbly crafted main riff. As if to illustrate the band's eagerness to meld old and new schools, the track also contains a rumbling bass structure and near-breakdown riff pattern to satisfy the fans of modernity. The anthemic chorus of "Divided We Fall" recalls the fist-in-the-air refrains of years gone by, while the catchy riff toward the end of "Road To Ruin" does a fine job of punctuating a borderline filler track.
The most distinctive element of Life Apocalypse is frontman Brian Gamblin. His voice is as rough, gruff, and as scratchy as they come and a nice fit with the Titan's Eve sound. Instead of snarling the lyrics in traditional thrash metal style, Brian tends to stick with a hardcorish bark that keeps the band from edging too close to the retro thrash cliff. In fact, the one crack in Brian's solid performance comes on the song "Frozen In Time". What is otherwise an unremarkable track draws undue attention as Brian injects some melody into his delivery and winds up stumbling a bit.
Brian also shares six-string duties with his brother Kyle. The two combine for some rather harmonious riffing throughout Life Apocalypse, with frequent classically-inspired solos sprinkled about as well-placed accent pieces. The solos offered on "The Abyss" are perhaps the most reminiscent of pre-'90s metal, while the searing twin-guitar beginning of "Hollow Gods" reaches back even further to touch on a bit of a NWOBHM influence. An aspect of Life Apocalypse that tends to stand out is the near-black metal tremolo riffing that dominates a handful of the songs. "Road To Ruin", "Frozen In Time", and the choruses of "Divided We Fall" are rather caustic moments where the Gamblin brothers team with drummer Casey Ory to accelerate the pace of the album to breakneck speeds.
Two instrumental tracks buried within Life Apocalypse serve as a cool oasis in the blistering heat of what is a rather scorching album. "Descension" is a very brief piece, barely more than an intro to the title track, that bears a guitar sound which reminds me of bands like Forefather and Týr. "A Wound That Never Heals", on the other hand, is a quite expansive composition which involves a variety of acoustic instruments (piano, cello, bongos) for a nice change of pace.
Life Apocalypse is a solid thrash album that makes use of both modern and vintage techniques, but it's not without occasional filler ("The Void" and "Hollow Gods" come to mind). Titan's Eve are on record saying that their approach to writing and recording Life Apocalypse was much more aggressive than their debut release, and sometimes it shows.
|2||Destined To Die||3:08|
|3||Road To Ruin||4:17|
|7||A Wound That Never Heals||3:27|
|9||Divided We Fall||2:40|
|10||Frozen In Time||5:05|