What do you do with a record that you just cannot place, and how do you express what you think about such an album when words escape you? This is the dilemma before me as I listen to Apocryphal Stories from Utarm for about the tenth time because I just am at a loss as to what is actually going on in these five long tracks that seem to draw you into a deep depression upon tossing the album on your stereo.
Let me put it to you this way: Apocryphal Stories is down right bizarre, and that is the best description that I have; one moment, the songs sound like a creepy Halloween soundtrack complete with sound effects while the next minute the songs throw a black metal sheen over top of the whole composition. Take the first song (“AltEtende Skaper”) and the monstrous journey that the song takes you as you listen the nearly fourteen minute opus; starting out as a dark “Phantom Of The Opera” vibe (with this weird warbling “spooky” voice) before descending into a depraved and bleak sounding slow black metal dirge, “AltEntende Skaper” is potentially disturbing (given the correct drugs). Surprisingly, I find myself drawn to listening to “Black Light Aeon Apocryphia” as this piece sounds the most fully realized or conceptualized track to be found on Apocryphal Stories while also somehow having this underlying sound of cold beauty underneath the fuzzed out distortion and screeched vocals; to me it reminds me of looking at a snow covered mountain in the twilight during a blizzard (you know a cold and desolate beauty amongst the maelstrom).
Now, I had only ever heard one other offering from Utarm before hearing Apocryphal Stories (a split with Sadness Saturn) but that never prepared me for the outlandish sounds that Apocryphal Stories, and while the term “bleak” gets tossed around haphazardly sometimes in the music press, Utarm seems to really nail that mood on Apocryphal Stories unlike many records described similarly that I have heard. There are lots of cool sounds on this record, but I would almost solely recommend it to those with strong constitutions or those who wallow in a nihilistic haze of debauched detachment because listening to this Apocryphal Stories is akin to running a marathon in cold and wet conditions while loaded on downers and alcohol.
6.0 / 10
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