Impious Baptism- Wrath of the Apex Predator

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, February 14, 2013

Impious Baptism may be a relatively new band, but its sole member J. has been a part of some of the most well-known Australian metal acts. He has spent time in Destroyer 666, Destruktor, and Nocturnal Graves (to name a few) but this project is his solo black/death band where he has taken on all of the instrumentals and recording duties. After two EP releases last year the time has come for debut full length Wrath of the Apex Predator to be released and it weaves a familiar path of destruction across nine tracks.

From what I have heard of the earlier material, it sounds as though the production values have been upped significantly for Wrath of the Apex Predator. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an incredibly noisy effort that still goes straight for the throat but it is a bit easier to make out the individual riffs and most of the tracks are distinguishable from one another. The song structures tend to blasting death metal, but there are moments where the riffing style heads into black metal territory and the fast pace of many of the tracks provides J. plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his ability on the guitar and other instruments. Quite often the material will start off with the type of bestial blasting that has become so commonplace in black/death metal but then hit some mid-tempo sections and slightly melodic breaks that helps the individual tracks to stand out. However, what I wasn’t as crazy about was the way that almost every song fades out at the end into ambient interludes. While there are some moments where this works quite well, doing it on almost every track disrupted the flow of the overall album and it didn’t seem to be absolutely necessary.

The vocals hit the type of pitches that one would expect from this style, as the screams and growls echo from the background and hit fairly low ranges. It is clear that J. has the type of intensity necessary for the material, but the way that the vocals were mixed on Wrath of the Apex Predator makes them get lost a little too frequently. This is one area where I feel that Impious Baptism has regressed slightly, as while the instrumental work stands out much more the vocal work doesn’t break through the noise like it did on some of the group’s previous material. Although this likely won’t prevent listeners from enjoying the effort, it often felt as though if J.’s harsh screams had been mixed just a little bit higher they would have made a greater impact.

While it may have some flaws, Impious Baptism’s debut is still a solid slab of black/death metal. I’m not overly crazy about the constant ambient breaks at the end of each song and the vocals get lost in the noise level a bit too frequently, but the quality of the riffs from track to track makes Wrath of the Apex Predator still worthy of a recommendation. There is plenty of room for this project to continue developing, and while it may not be at the same level as some of the bands J. has been involved in just yet I think it’s capable of reaching that point.

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