- Year 2016
- Genre Black MetalDeath Metal
- Country United Kingdom
- Label Invictus Productions
- Rating Solid
Invictus Productions continues to have an ear for quality, as one of their last releases of 2016 was a cassette version of ‘Manifestation’, the debut EP from mysterious UK death metal entity Spectral Apparition. Originally released digitally earlier in the year, this is a band that has kept their identities a mystery and the only detail about this recording they have revealed is the involvement of Greg Chandler (Esoteric, Lychgate) behind the boards at Priory Recording Studios. But that’s perfectly fine when the music is capable of making a strong statement like this, as Spectral Apparition takes the lumbering, dense death metal base and weaves elements of black metal and doom around it to create a sound that feels like it’s sucking you into the abyss. There remains room for this group to further expand upon some of these additional influences and push further towards a sound of their own, but they’ve started off with a strong debut that’s sure to catch the attention of quite a few people.
Hints of black metal melodies work their way alongside the death metal elements, creating a swirling cascade of sound that pulls you further and further into the void
Comprised of three songs that run for twenty minutes in total, ‘Manifestation’ offers up a bit more variation to the standard occult death metal formula than you would initially expect. While there may be that familiar lumbering, dense riffing at the core of Spectral Apparition’s material, this isn’t simply another band that is going for the cavernous, noisy approach and calling it a day. While the bottom heavy death metal tonality serves as a base for each piece, the instrumentals use it in different ways and let their ideas expand naturally, pulling in additional influences as they progress. Opener Voices Call from Beyond the Shroud of Perception is a perfect example of just how many twists and turns the band can provide in a single song, as it begins with a slower, ominous lead that has a doom vibe before opening up into crushing, destructive death metal. Over eight and a half minutes the tempo naturally rises and falls, whipping things up into a faster attack that’s reminiscent of Coffins before letting them fall back into much slower, ritualistic territory. The other two songs take a similar approach, and the way that each section flows into the next is much more seamless than one might expect from such a new entity. Hints of black metal melodies work their way alongside the death metal elements, creating a swirling cascade of sound that pulls you further and further into the void. Greg Chandler’s done a fantastic job bringing out the subtler nuances of the instrumentation, and while this is a bit cleaner sound wise than most in the genre it still leaves a considerable impact. Spectral Apparition has left themselves to further branch expand upon these ominous melodies and slower ritualistic tempos, but even this early on in their development they’re capable of pulling you in.
With the recording providing a bit of separation between the elements, the vocals stand out on a regular basis and don’t get buried underneath the layers of instrumentation. The primary style is a lower scream that spreads over the songs with an immense amount of force, and they reach peaks where it sounds like the singer is genuinely channeling something otherworldly. These give way to some guttural ranges, as well as some slightly higher ranges that are reminiscent of Mitochondrion and Auroch. It may not stray that far from the styles fans of this genre are used to, but the performances are delivered with conviction and spine chilling intensity.
There are a lot of bands delving into this brand of death metal, but the additional black metal and doom influences that come through in the songwriting give Spectral Apparition a different feel from some of the others out there. The clearer production lets the haunting melodies and swirling riffing put you under its spell, ensuring ‘Manifestation’ leaves a lasting impression. I suspect that this group still has the potential to morph into something truly unique as they push their sound further outwards, but even in this early incarnation they are worth experiencing.