Release date: October 26, 2018
Record label: DWA
Genre: Electro-Industrial, Industrial, Industrial Metal
Decode and Devour
Symphony of Revenge
The Book of Gates
Places to Listen:
Quicktake: Apocrypha is the peak of Sirus's stylistic evolution. It'll be interesting to see how they progress past here.
Look up "data breach" on your data miner/search engine of choice. It feels like it's every other week when news of a large data breach happens. It appears no one is safe and threat of the impending surveillance state is a very real one for some people. Sirus is very good with playing on these fears and has been since 2008.
I've been following Sirus since around 2015 or 2016 when I heard their CygnosiC remix of One Last Time off of Remix and Reflect. I enjoyed their sound, and after a while I decided to check their actual stuff. Neon Dominion was the first (and only, for a while) song by theirs that I loved. It somehow took me a while to actually get into the rest of their stuff for some reason.
The very first LP, Falling through Dystopia, is rough. Very very rough, without a doubt. The mixing at points is lackluster, the vocals are buried, and frankly, it wasn't too unique. However, it set the stage for the project, and I think it gave the thing that a lot of industrial projects something they lack - Identity. The first project was rough, but it had the key elements that Sirus has been perfecting through the years. The influence of world music, the driving beats, and the cyberpunk themes.
Apocrypha is the zenith of this.
Thoughts as a whole
Apocrypha as a whole is a tightly knit together record without much extra fat. The track placement is nice and creates a good amount of atmosphere. I hope that the metal influences and aspects don't overtake the industrial ones in future releases, but this record is peak Sirus. I'd also like to know their writing process along with what kind of hardware/software is used.
"Enter Cairo" is the album's opener. It's a great tone setter that has influences of world music. The main focus is a sample talking about the progress of technology and how it can be used to further increase the class divide. I don't really have much to say about this as it's just an opener, but it does a wonderful job of setting the tone (political and conceptual) for the album as a whole.
Singularity was a lead single for Apocrypha and it's pretty easy to see why. This is probably the most conventionally heavy song in Sirus's catalog. However, I think it's the most accessible. As a whole, it very nicely showcases what Sirus is in a nutshell - Cyberpunk, heavy, and experimental as hell. It's a 6 minute long progressive industrial metal song with world music influence. I think that if I had to pick any song from Sirus's catalog to get someone into them with I'd pick this one.
it very nicely showcases what Sirus is in a nutshell - Cyberpunk, heavy, and experimental as hell.
Decode and Devour
Decode and Devour is a rather bassy track with a guitar halfway through it. The metal bits sound quite nice. They're mechanical and the drum machine-esque drums behind them are a nice touch. I personally think that the guitar tone is a bit too "raw" and would have benefited from being made to sound more artificial. The synth blips and bloops in this track are as satisfying as usual, though. Rombout's vocal range seems to be wider than it was in the last couple Sirus albums. He's come a long way from the rough aggrotech vocals of the debut.
Symphony of Revenge
What the fuck? Prog industrial? I support this. Honestly though, it wasn't until recently that I actually listened to the track properly. The instrumental in the first half of the track are great and Keeva's vocals are hauntingly beautiful, but it never really grabbed a hold of me and pulled me in. I definitely regret it now though. A little bit before the 3 minute mark Rombout's vocals come in and the track really kicks in, and it shifts into high gear with glitchy drum n bass. I really appreciate the vocal effects on Rombout's vocals later on in the track. It sounds really interesting and adds a bit of flavor that's missing from a lot of electro industrial acts.
Exotic code is a bass heavy track that is mainly an instrumental, save for a couple samples. I don't really have much to say about this track. It's a really solid bass track. I think that vocals could enhance it, but it totally works. Also, there's more guitars later on in the track, which is cool. I prefer the tone of these guitars to the ones in Decode and Devour.
Deep State is an industrial rap collab with fellow DWA label mate Seraphim System. It's heavily political and it has some biting commentary on it. The album came out in 2018 when I was a vague center/sort of left of center libertarian so the lyrics didn't necessarily speak to me. Now in 2020 after working bare minimum wage in retail during the Coronavirus pandemic and extreme civil unrest, the song gives a bit of a catharsis to me. I think we could actually use a good old fashioned crucifixion of corrupt politicians and the killing of fascist motherfuckers. The track itself is solid. It's really bassy and glitchy. Along with that, the vocals have effects on them that make things sound a lot more interesting than if they were dry. My only real complaint is the ending of the song, I think it drags on too long. John announced that he would be stopping his focus on Seraphim System in 2020 to focus on his rap efforts. Earlier on this year, he announced he'd be changing his mind and released one album with another one on the way. I wonder if he will still be working on a rap project. Personally I prefer Seraphim System to a full on rap project, but the dude isn't a half bad rapper.
Now in 2020... I think we could actually use a good old fashioned crucifiction of corrupt politicians and the killing of fascist motherfuckers.
Basilisk is similar to Symphony of Revenge in the sense that I honestly kind of always just skipped it. There's nothing wrong with the track or anything, it's just that it doesn't hook me in like the other tracks on the album. I think that the synth noises are rather sick. In particular, the Reece-like patches pleases my earholes. I feel like this is probably my least favorite track on the record. It's not a bad track by any means. It's just that in comparison to the other track on the record there just isn't too much going on.
I first heard the other mix of nerve agent from the Beat:Cancer compilation. I thought it handled industrial metal in a really, really solid way. The guitars sound mangled and artificial. I still feel like I prefer that mix of the song, but the album mix is still very, very good. The lyrics are a bitingly hard critique of the war crimes committed in Syria and condemning those involved. It's probably the best political lyrics I've heard from an industrial act. They're simple and they're certainly not Shakespearean or anything, but the self righteous anger speaks to me.
The Book of Gates
The Book of Gates is definitely one of the more "concept album" tracks on the record. Apocrypha is a concept album, though I'm not entirely too sure what the concept is. I have a rough idea (The singularity and affect of it on society), but sadly, I missed out on the first edition of the hard cover digibook. While doing research for this I found out that they released a second one, but I probably won't be able to get it until later in the month. I don't want to hold this review til then because I'm already annoyed at myself for taking so long to finish it in the first place. I'm a bad person and I should feel bad. I'll probably update this review later. Anyway, the track itself is very good. I enjoy Keeva's vocals and Rombout's wider range is showing through here. As usual, the world music influences are quite nicely mixed in with the harsh industrial bleep bloops.
Tahrir is the closing track to Apocrypha. It's very similar to Enter Cario in the sense that the majority of the vocals are Keeva's singing and samples driving it along. As usual, the world music influences are very good. I personally don't think that a closing track has a need to be 7 minutes long, but it is solid and hauntingly beautiful in parts.
I understand that Apocrypha is going on two years old, but Sirus is probably my favorite band and likely the largest influence on me musically so I wanted this to be the first album review I do on this site. Everything they've put out past their debut album has been fresh and interesting in a scene that tends to be somewhat derivative and stale. The low points on Apocrypha have been relatively high and the high points have been rather mountainous. My only real critique is that some of the tracks on the record are somewhat longer than they really need to be. I'd be interested in seeing how Sirus furthers their sound on their next album and you can bet that I'll more than likely post a glowing album review here when they do.