APOSTOLICA – Animae Haeretica (Album Review)

Release Date: September 22nd 2023 - Scarlet Records

APOSTOLICA - Animae Haeretica

Whoever knows me well, knows that I am a very big fan of Power Metal and Heavy catchy music, but I’ll be very honest here, bands like Apostolica have basically every element that I consider are wrong with Power Metal today, at least on the surface. The first thing I ever knew of this band, was a photo of this mysterious bunch of masked individuals that looked like that had been pulled out of a cult, and I couldn’t help but feel like they were trying to tickle our interest and to sell us the image before the music. At that point, this band could have been any genre, but once I listened to the music I realized that they indeed play Power Metal pretty much in the exact same vein as bands like Powerwolf or Sabaton: melody-lead short songs, extremely catchy choruses, bombastic moments, and a ton of church organ in the mix. As a lover of Power Metal, I gave them a chance, and while the musical work was solid I just couldn’t get over the feeling that Apostolica were the ultimate gimmick-formula Power Metal band. Let’s see if their 2nd album ‘Animae Haeretica’ managed to solidify them as a band of their own:

The album opens with the title track, and with it a slow and epic intro full of theatrical drama and a church organ that makes it extremely clear which band is Apostolica’s main influence. It quickly turns into a slow-ish galloping song with a very catchy chorus and a bridge that goes on for a bit longer than needed. It is a very decent opneing song. ‘Angel of Smyrna’ is next, and with it one of the best tracks in the album. Very strong Sabaton vibes in this song, with an extremely enjoyable and anthemic chorus that begs for some pyrotechnics in a live setting. The guitar work is also very good in this song. ‘Rasputin’ is 100% Powerwolf vibes, from its structure, its melodies, its words, its church organs everywhere, this track feels just like the German band. Regardless, it is a good song, one of the best ones in my opinion. The band throws a bit of a spanner in the works with ‘Black Prophets’, a mid-tempo song with cool chunky and heavy riffs and very 90s Alt metal vibe, and indeed a welcome change from the bombastic Power Metal formula. Next is ‘Gloria’, which takes us back to the bombastic Power Metal formula, it is again a good song, but probably not as memorable as the first few at the beginning of the album. It does an excellent dual guitar solo though. This song makes me realize that Apostolica is a band that relies a lot in the repetition of the main chorus of main lead, and it is a resoruce that when used cleverly, can really enhance songs and make them stick to your brain, but if overused, that repetition can feel like it overstays its welcome a bit.

‘Animae Haeretica’ is in general a very even album, very well balanced, with consistent musical and vocal work (Ezekiel’s gravelly and raspy voice might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it grows on you) so the 2nd half continues on the same tenure as the 1st one. ‘Heretics’ is another very Powerwolf-esque song with a few eastern-sounding melodies. It is a decent song but once again, it fails to leave a very lasting impression, especially when compared to other songs of the album. ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’ has the same problem, it just isn’t very memorable at all, and almost feels like an afterthought inclusion. The song has a more happy feel to it, with its pub-chantey verses, but its mid-tempo and extremely repetitive nature don’t help its cause at all. Fortunately ‘Fire’ brings things up to speed once again, being one of the finest tunes of the whole recording, an amazing Power Metal anthem actually. It is fast, has good dynamics and the different vocal approaches work marvels in it. The song is epic and feels ready to explode in a live setting. It is also one of the few songs that is guitar-riff driven instead of lead melody-driven, and that is a very welcome thing. ‘Veritas’ is a very interesting song with an unusual chorus that somehow works. A little bit formulaic in structure and tone, but its unique features help it stand out among other songs of the album. ‘Skyfall’ is very run-of-the-mill Power Metal song, it shows us nothing new, but it is very enjoyable to listen to. This song, once again, relies a little too much on repeating the same line over again, but it is not a bad song. The album closes with ‘Rest in a Bed of Roses’, a very intense closing track with a limerick-sounding verse that repeats itself a few times with some instrumental parts in between. Interesting choice for a closing track, but a welcome change from their usual stuff.

Production-wise, this album is as polished as you would expect from any modern Metal band, sometimes a little bit too much, but extremely professional people worked on this album and it shows. The keys and the melodies are the leaders of the parade, and the guitars have a more subtle role.

With the meteoric rise of bands like Ghost, Sleep Token, Gaerea, etc. having a creepy and mysterious masked band seems to be the way to popularity lately, and that is exactly my issue with Power Metal today: everything is based on a gimmick and not on the music. I struggle to think of any new or new-ish Power Metal band that has been recently signed to any major label, that doesn’t adhere to a specific gimmick or wear costumes. Paraphrasing what the great Tobias Sammet said recently, “These days you open any Metal magazine and it looks more like a cosplay catalogue”. We all know that image is important, but it should never overtake music as the selling point of a band, at least in my opinion. I will always believe that the actual songs have to remain the main focus of a Metal band, but maybe I’m too old-school for these new generations. With that in mind, ‘Animae Haeretica’ is a very enjoyable piece of modern Power Metal, with tons of hooks and singable choruses, a decent amount of good guitar leads, and as bombastic as the more popular latest albums of the genre, but it is definitely missing something in the originality area, something that cannot be grabbed from other bands or by wearing masks, and something that if the band manages to find in later releases, they can easily become one of the most popular bands around.

Album highlights: Fire, Angel of Smyrna, Rasputin, Rest in a bed of Roses

For fans of: Powerwolf, Sabaton, Civil War, Bloodbound

Apostolica: Facebook

Release Year: 2023
Label: Scarlet Records
Category: Album
Country: International

Reviewed by Roman Ibarra