Based on the promo photos and general style put forth by Welicoruss, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume the band is yet another symphonic black metal act. While that’s partly a correct assumption, this Russian band has a lot more to offer underneath the surface of that general style. Using significantly more symphonic elements than would be found from the likes of Dimmu Borgir or Fairytale Abuse, the “Apeiron” EP is unapologetic about going full force into epic instrumentation and leaving black metal behind.
The requisite creepy intro with whispers and odd sound effects gets the title track started before heading directly into a mix of upbeat keyboards working alongside melodic guitar work. The music almost has a bit of a power metal edge before the growling shows up to remind the audience that metal should be dark and aggressive. Growls and screams aren’t the main focus of the EP, however, as they get left behind when the title track ends.
“To Far Worlds” hits next, and it manages to reach a truly epic level for a completely instrumental song. The backing atmosphere and sweeping guitar sounds give the impression of a large scale setting, providing a lot of depth and texture to the music. An overall Therion vibe even makes its way into the music, as well as some prog aspects that make the track much more than just black metal.
Heading even deeper into symphonic territory, “Slava Rusi” is composed mostly of piano and string arrangements, although still done with a metal edge. The composition is stronger than would be expected from a metal band, as it would fit well in nearly any big budget movie score. Of particular note is the stuttering, plucked string sounds partway into the song, which is unexpected and changes the pace nicely. The track has a natural and organic progression that moves fluidly between upbeat and melancholy, with several stops in between.
“Knights Dance” switches gears again, going far more on the metal side, but still keeping up the Therion style strings and keyboards in the background. It’s a shame the song only sticks around for a mere two minutes, as it seems like there was a lot more that could have been explored with that particular idea.
Welicoruss has a compelling mix of the symphonic and the aggressive, and its blend will likely appeal to the power metal, symphonic metal, and black metal crowds. For metal fans who wanted a little more symphony in their Dimmu Borgir or a little more black metal in their Therion, “Apeiron” delivers solidly on all fronts.