Mixed and mastered by Neil Hudson (Krysthla) at Initiate Audio & Media Studios in
Northampton. Album artwork designed by Domonic Sohor (Raging Speedhorn).
Released via PHD on 9 July 2021.
Aporia (styled as A P O R I A) is the follow up release from Leicester five-piece Internal Conflict; their first being 2018’s EP Nothing Is Lost. Musically, the album leans towards a modern and progressive heavy metal with melodic and metalcore influences. Lyrically, the songs are existential, reflecting on what it means to be human in today’s deeply challenging society.
Album opener “Kingdom of Apathy” (track 1) hits the grounding running with a churning riff, blasting beats and a half-shouted, half-melodic vocal line about being unable to express yourselves to those you love and the apathy and distance that results. While the music sounds a little generic (modern metal by numbers), it is very well executed and the production is clear and balanced.
“Paresthesia” (track 2) tackles the subject of depression—something to which I am sure many will relate. The song points to hope in the things you love and finding meaning in that. The song begins atmospherically before a dark and twisting riff plunges the song onto a very different arc. I really love how this song twists and morphs between sections. There is an almost progressive feel to this track, and certainly a hopeful one as it thunders from riff to riff.
Like an old radio being quickly tuned, “Atlas Down” (track 3) starts with a very scooped guitar riff that runs a thread through the song. Lyrically, the song addresses the feeling that the one thing that you live for is slipping away. “In your weakest moments,” the release notes says about this track, “you may find your greatest muse.”
Standing in the face of what feels like an insurmountable obstacle—feeling betrayed and
cast aside, but refusing to be defeated. The pace slows a little with “Bleed the Sky” (track 4) and quietens with the opening, arpeggiated chords that are rediscovered about halfway through, it leads to another twisting main riff and a chorus of vocals.
“Hollow Heart” (track 5), which tackles the theme of toxic politics—lies, corruption and abuse—has one of my favourite riffs that springs into a brutal, pounding, relentless blast.
The almost orchestral opening to “Traitorous” (track 6) guides the listener into a bouncing verse and more spacious chorus. “Sometimes it all gets too much,” the release notes says, “and the invasive thoughts are too loud. It’s not defeat, but acknowledgment that this is part of you and your day to day. Coping mechanisms and meditations”. This song has depth and space amidst the thundering drums and relentless guitars.
Reminiscent of the opening track, “The Line” (track 7) pulls no punches, hitting the listener square between the eyes with a brutal riff and barking vocals that scream about the search for perfection that is killing our world. Something needs to change.
Album closer, “Kayfabe” (track 8), starts with the sound effects of cameras and… is that a Windows system sound in the background? A simple, almost angelic theme that bursts into life, repeated on guitars with sub-theme countering it beneath. “Self obsession for connection” the lyrics shout; a song about the fake personalities and characters we can create online while avoiding our real selves behind the social media accounts. It is a fitting ending to an uncompromising album. What now? How does this album challenge you to be better and to see the world in a more realistic light? What now? How does this album challenge you to be better and to see the world in a more realistic light?
Musically, this album sounds much the same throughout, but somehow that doesn’t seem to matter. After all, Slayer more or less made a career out of this approach; and given the last year that we’ve had it seems somewhat fitting. There are moments of real beauty but you need to be attentive. Don’t disregard this as background music. Rather, think of these songs like the various scenes of a screenplay—musical and lyrical themes threading throughout them: building and twisting, guiding and misdirecting the listener through the maze of themes that is modern life. It’s all rather good.
Review score: 85%