APOLION, Death Grows Into Sperm (2009, Bylec Tum)
Have I died and gone to Hell? What great deed have I done to deserve so sublimely ridiculous a skull as this? Although the hallmark of the average Big Dumb Skull is a wanton disregard for the theme of the album’s title, in this rare instance, the two coexist in blissful, skullacious harmony. Death grows into sperm. Calvariam cum flagellum. A screaming skullatozoa. Whispy lines framing the skull suggest seminal fluid, and the bluish hue recalls the hazy glow of the ultrasound machine. A tour de force of conceptual unity! It is preferred, of course, that skulls face forward, but here, the orientation is key to the overall composition, and the Council could not be more pleased.
Apolion is Michele Ricci, who endearingly (and atypically) foregoes a psyeudonym, and Death Grows Into Sperm is surprisingly decent for a one man black metal project. I’m not the foremost expert on the genre, but I hear a mix of Dark Medieval Times and Worship Him, especially in the Vorphalackian vocals and the groovy midpaced sections. Most songs are generally uptempo but not fully blasty, tempered by the occasional clean guitar section, tastefully played. The production is good, perhaps over-clean, and I believe that not only are the drums programmed, but the bass as well, which is amusing. Speaking of midi: I never fully approve of sequenced drums, but they sound extra-wrong in black metal, where the push and pull of a mediocre drummer playing faster than his abilities allow is one of the signature elements of the style. The mechanized precision of the drum machine brings order at the expense of a very necessary chaos. Maybe Apolion would be a little better, or at least more authentic, if Ricci tapped them out in real time on his keyboard. But then again, maybe it’s best that he quit while he was ahead.
— Friar Johnsen