Review by Omni: Apocalypse was a heavy metal band from Caledonia, Michigan. The band independently released two albums in the 1990s, their self-titled debut in 1994 and a follow-up entitled Rewind in 1998.. This two-disc compilation collects both of them. Both albums were recorded by a lineup featuring vocalist Jerry Keyzer, guitarist John Luepnitz, bassist Jeff Welch and drummer Bob Matheson. Although Apocalypse didn’t ever achieve any level of fame, Welch also briefly played in Winters Bane, the band that launched the career of singer Tim “Ripper” Owens. The two albums by Apocalypse have become achieved a cult status due to their rarity, and this is the first time that they’ve been available since they were initially released.
Apocalypse occupies the first disc. Despite being released in 1994, this album has a heavy 1980s aesthetic and could easily have been released in the previous decade. The band’s music is comparable the early albums by Heir Apparent and Keyzer’s strong vocal performance bears a strikingly similar to the legendary Geoff Tate of Queensryche. Much like Heir Apparent, the band’s songs have a style that blends elements of early progressive power metal with some light AOR elements. The album begins with a synthesizer introduction and the use of keyboards continues throughout the album, but the guitar is the most central part of the compositions. Luepnitz displays a considerable talent for heavy riffs and melodic lead parts, but his beautiful guitar solos are a definite highlight of the album. Welch’s bass playing is also of note, and the very audible bass parts really shine during the album’s quieter moments. Keyzer’s vocals are as suited to ballads as they are to straightforward heavy metal numbers, and both of these seem to have an equal place in the band’s repertoire. Apocalypse is an overall strong and cohesive collection of songs, but “Visions of War” is probably the strongest track on the album.
Rewind sees the band delivering an album that is noticeably less heavy than their previous work. Many of the songs have a definite resemblance to 1980s AOR and the album seems to offer much less variety in songwriting. Everything about the songs here is much more restrained, with Keyzer’s vocals especially being much less energetic than before. The weaker production values robs the songs of some of their potential impact. That said, this is definitely the same band that recorded Apocalypse and the album does have its moments. The menacing “Means to an End” is a heavy track that is as good as anything on the band’s debut. While it may be unfair to compare this album to the band’s debut, it is difficult not to do so when they are juxtaposed on this compilation. Although it may not live up to expectations, Rewind is still a very enjoyable album that metalheads may just have to learn to appreciate on its own merits.
This compilation is another solid offering from Arkeyn Steel that is sure to please fans of cult metal. It’s great that there are so many reissues of rare and cult metal albums coming out these days, and this one should be a priority because the two-disc compilation is limited to 500 copies. This is more proof that popularity and success are not indicative of the quality of heavy metal and great bands will be passed over in favor of whatever is trendy at the time. Don’t miss out on your chance to buy this great collection. Order HERE.
My rating: 80/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)