Bordeaux is not just the home of a rather delicious wine, it's also the home of French Black Metal outfit 'Otargos' whose name comes from the ancient Greek word for goat and whose broad ranging lyrical themes range from quantum physics to anti religion, adding an interesting and different lyrical slant on Black Metal.
'Apex Terror' is their fifth offering and the follow up to 2011s 'No God – No Satan', with a heavier sound than its predecessors coming from a strong Death Metal influence added into the mix.
They certainly have a rather unique approach, with some elements bordering on Industrial, which sits very well with the cosmic aspect to their source of lyrical inspiration, which is another way that they differ from the majority of bands within the Black Metal genre and it makes a change from the usual blasphemous approach which in some ways has gotten a little overworked by the many.
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The musicianship across the release is excellent and the all so important vocals meet with my approval, a broad ranging, harsh and gargling growl of sinister proportions.
Title and opening track 'Apex Terror' begins with drone and a military drumbeat, building further with the addition of the guitars, a hugely atmospheric beginning that pans out to a stunning first track, intense and pulsating with a few interesting industrial drop-ins top the latter part for good measure.
The backbone of 'Fleshless – Deathless' is made up from chugging, darkly sinister riffs with vocals that are magnificently deep that together make it a very intense and enjoyable listen.
All the tracks are excellent in their own right, each one bringing something new to offer and to consider, the tracks are all well constructed with powerful phrasing, particularly on 'Remnant From A Long-Dead Star' with a slower almost doom laden pace to the greater part, but picking up towards the end, a track with superb guitar elements and equally superb drum work awash with crashing cymbals. 'For Terra' has a fast tempo, great riffs, and a slight thrash feel.
A radioactive opener on 'Fall Out' rapidly becoming fast and furious with more intensity coming from the relentless drum work which becomes very prominent in places and towards the latter part is punctuated with punchy guitars while 'Xeno' is a sinister yet atmospheric electronics based mini track of just over a minute, a well placed palate cleanser before the intense and powerful 'Drone', another superbly constructed track with a fast tempo finish.
'Aftermath Hyperion' opens at a slower pace, variety and interest comes from the rising and falling in tempo and intensity across the six minutes of its duration. 'Versus' is dark bleak and desolate to open, enhanced by spoken lyrics and a minute in, the tempo elevates to a mid paced chug generously garnished with intense drum work complete with crashing cymbals, midway the guitar work breaks out to a thrash solo and continues in this vein until the end, an interesting and surprising finale.
This is a highly fascinating, listenable and recommendable album and it's good to see a few decent French Metal bands making an impact on the Extreme Metal scene. Svart Crown, Outcast and Offending, to name a few, have captured my interest in recent years and now Otargos, who are, in their own words: "Set to make you stare into the pitch black abyss of cosmic finitude with a sardonic smile..."