Apostate - Trapped in a Sleep
Black Art
7 songs (51'35")
Release year: 2010
Reviewed by Alex

I am always both proud and privileged to review a less known band from Ukraine, my homeland. In the case of Lviv collective Apostate the band is actually not a new formation, reformed by a bass player Olexandr Kostko after more than a decade of dormancy, but Trapped in a Sleep is effectively Apostate’s debut full-length.

I am even more privileged to write reviews about the bands from Ukraine, if their work is quality, and it is clearly the case with Apostate, even though they reach back in time for influences and inspiration. L’vovyane play a version of deathdoom very focused on the traditional UK doom of early 90s, yet mostly stripped of the gothic influences which slowly crept into Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride in their latter years. Without being slower than molasses, Apostate are still not doing speedy cartwheels in their playing, instead relying on the meaty bearish riffs and the very evident, active and subterranean bass. Into this mix, which never gets overly busy or distorted, atmospheric keys are allowed to float in, making some parallels with Mental Home and Godgory. Throwing a tad of a folk melody (Worm), ethnic style chords (Sisyphean Struggle) or picking up the speed a little bit, as in chugging riffs of the title track, Apostate are still at their best when they craft the songs around spelled out, arduous, laborious riffs, with an ever-present atmosphere.

If you are not a fan of the traditional doom and get a sudden exposure to it, some of the most often heard complaints is the length and repetitiveness of the songs. Apostate do not escape the obvious potholes. The song length being not a problem on its own, the band at times has weird transitions, the parts not necessarily fitting together. While it probably would have been a more logical point to continue the play on the song’s original riff and continue arranging it in various manner, Apostate shift suddenly into something of a slamming breakdown (Worm), slow proceedings down to a crawl (Filling the Void) or simply have a good thing last too long (title track).

While never forgetting about the atmosphere and even introducing a brief violin/string instrument moment (title track), the band never comes off as overly brutal. Vocalist Bohdan Kozub applies a dual vocal approach in just about every cut. His growls are not bottomless scrapes at the bottom of the barrel, and they are pretty legible. At the same time, his clean vocals are a little shouty, coming off as romantic and boyish compared to the otherwise cranky, old, wise man. When clean vocals are less about shouting (Earth Escape Plan) and more about singing (Worm), the songs receive an added degree of catchiness.

Sprinkled with short fluid leads, Trapped in a Sleep has a clean enough sound to highlight musicians’ skill. Apostate is at their best when their songs tell a story, like in Sisyphean Struggle, where a play is made on a well-known Greek myth. Pushing the stone up the mountain, the goal is almost reached, yet almost at the pinnacle the boulder rolls downhill making Sisyphus go for it all over again – a cruel punishment of gods. The struggle, taking place somewhere in the icy (opening keyboards), foreign underground can be traced throughout the cut making you both shiver and feel the sympathy for the unfortunate.

Killing Songs :
Trapped in a Sleep, Sisyphean Struggle
Alex quoted 77 / 100
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