Apprentice – The Strength of Mortality
Reviewed: December, 2018
Rating: 3.5 /5
The Kings of Kanadian Karnage!- The Frozen North Rides Forth!
This feature is so good, I had to name it twice! About once a year I indulge my patriotism and review a bunch of Canadian Metal releases. There has been a whole pile of albums recently released in the past few months and I want to help bring some exposure to these bands. There are bands of all styles and all genres from across the country in this feature. The bands covered in this feature are… (listed alphabetically)
Anvil (Toronto, ON)
Apprentice (Vancouver, BC)
Arctic Circle (Brandon, Manitoba)
Assault (Vancouver, BC)
Black Rat (Calgary, AB)
Cauldron (Toronto, ON)
Codex:Factoria (Vancouver, BC)
Dethgod (Calgary, AB)
Fractal Cypher (Montreal,Quebec)
Haiduk (Calgary, AB)
Iomair (Scarborough, ON)
Ice War (Ottawa, ON)
Leah (Vancouver, BC)
Lee Aaron (Vancouver, BC)
Malacoda (Oakville, ON)
Mongol (Edmonton, AB)
Ominous Eclipse (Ottawa, ON)
Skullfist (Toronto, ON)
Solborn (Edmonton, AB)
Thor (Vancouver, BC)
Trollwar (Alma, PQ)
Untimely Demise (Saskatoon, SK)
W.M.D (Calgary, AB)
Ye Goat-Herd Gods (Calgary, AB)
Please enjoy all the albums in this feature and check out all the talent Canada has to offer!
Apprentice is one of the hot, young buzz bands out of lotus land, namely Vancouver, BC. This quintet has been working it out in the trenches for a few years and caught my ear back in 2016 with a three-song EP called ORDER 66. A couple years later, more gigs, more experience and these guys have released their debut album, THE STRENGTH OF MORTALITY.
Led by entrepreneur, promoter and all-round Metal-dude, Joey Hockin, Apprentice do not disappoint with their debut effort. At first glance you might think this six-track effort is an EP but because of the progressive nature of the song-writing each track runs in the six to seven minute range, placing this in full album territory at 40 minutes. Those progressive tendencies and adventurous song-writing gives Apprentice an epic feel. The word ‘epic’ does not always directly translate into ‘long songs’, but some of the songs just have great meat on their bones without getting too note-dense, or over-playing for the sake of playing.
The production is adequate for a new, independent act, I’d like to see the vocals a little higher in the mix personally. The band do the twin, harsh/clean male vocal attack, which is common, and Ok but has never been a favourite of mine. So many young bands, basically every Metal band and fan P.A. (Post-Anselmo), seem to feel it is necessary to have harsh vocals and they often confuse heaviness and power with screaming. Eric Willmott is a solid, classic, Power Metal style vocalist and to me the gruff vocals just detract from it all. It is not just Apprentice, a lot of killer young bands all have this bizarre identity crisis. a band should be Power Metal or be Death Metal, and not try to please everyone and be both because it never works well. Often the harsh vocals ruin it for the Power Metal crew and it is not harsh enough for the Death Metal crew. I’m not ranting against Apprentice, they are awesome but they need to go just pure Prog-Power, in my opinion. It’s not that I’m against harsh vocals, not at all…I listen to brutal, ultra-guttural, porno-grind too, but every-time I hear a killer Power Metal band, like Apprentice, add the harsh vocals, I cringe. It is just not necessary. OK, end of rant!
The songs on THE STRENGTH OF MORTALITY are loaded with great harmonies and melodies and some great musicianship; the individual performances are excellent! The band floats between mid-tempo and faster stuff like ‘Harbinger’, a killer cut and one of the album highlight for sure, switching tempos with ease. The albums ends off with what I consider to be their signature song, ‘Desecrated Miranda’, an exciting, up-tempo number that is sure to please fans of True Metal executed with confidence.
Apprentice have the classic Metal sound but without directly sounding like anyone obvious influence. As mentioned earlier, there is quite a bit of talk in the underground about this band and the debut by Apprentice does not disappoint.
The Age Of Mortals
Bringer Of Pain