Apiary - Lost In Focus - Ironclad Recordings / Metal Blade Records 2006
Running Time: 44:27
A hardcore band not from Massachussets, upper New York state, or Europe? An anomaly these days, to be sure. Still, checking off SoCal's Apiary as "just another metalcore group" doesn't give this band the fair shake they deserve. Sure, the music is rife with aggression, the change-ups are frequent and appropriately kung-fu ready, and the vocals are what you'd expect. But the difference lies in the way that Apiary twist the formula to fit their musical delivery, resulting in the most (Dare I say?) original album to come out of Trevor Phipps' Ironclad Recordings in...ever.
Jagged riffs carve "Pain Is The Reason" into the tissues of the brain, and "Descent" pairs upper-fret noodling with explosive hardcore. Still, Apiary manages to make both sound convincing, a rare feat today indeed. Jason Ingram's stentorian vocals are delivered with all the fluxuation of a bolted down anvil, but fit the ribshattering blast of "Omnipresence", and the whole album, to be sure. The guitars of Layman and McClatchey are clean-toned for the majority of Lost In Focus, ala Into The Moat, and resulting in a more discernable production, and upping the adrenaline level of "Bliss In Vain" far right of the redline. While there are many sections throughout this debut that are sure to send the hardcore kids into seizures attempting to reenact Chuck Norris's performance in Octagon, I'd steer clear of calling the slice-and-dice attacks of Apiary "breakdowns". Even when the stomp-friendly riffs are in abundance, there's still a lot going on in the background, which is sure to make those of us not "scene" enough to care about how to properly "pick up the change" sit up and take notice. The low end rumble of "Lustrum" is positively crushing, and I'm not sure if Apiary will be "your liberator from life.", as Ingram roars in "Peril's Divinity", but they're damn sure a liberation from the cookie cutter, white-belted assembly line mentality of much of today's attempts at hardcore. Another marked defining point of the band is that there is no metal influence whatsoever to be found within Lost In Focus. In this age where every other band that rips off five seconds of a Maiden/Priest dual lead is called metalcore, Apiary spare themselves no delusions of metal credibility, and - major label backing notwithstanding - set about making the music that they want to hear. The musical intelligence which guides Apiary through the enveloping "Finding A Way Back" is admirable, and shows the band as willing to explore the hynotic tribal textures found in bands such as Neurosis and Cult Of Luna in order to acheive the desired end.
Less over the top than Crowpath or Dillinger, far more viscerally entertaining than The Red Chord, and cerebral as all Hell, Apiary may not be ready to change the scene for the better singlehandedly. I can tell you this, though. I, for one, am glad they're on our side.