Style: Hard Rock
Release Date: 28 May 2021
Here's a really interesting album, because it was made from a new band from Brazil who don't have a particularly wide presence on the web—I had to dig in Portuguese to find out who the members were—but it covers an wide sonic landscape. Initially, it seems like a heavy metal album, but it's a lot easier to classify it as hard rock, but even there it's rarely static, a band like Faith No More clearly being a major influence.
The heavy metal comes from the opening instrumental, Cosmic Silence, which kicks off the album with serious intent. That buzzsaw guitar reminds of Iron Maiden's Back in the Village and that's before the drumming goes all double bass and the guitar sears through a solo. Even the quieter and slower coda says metal and it seems obvious to me that one of the two guitarists is a metalhead because most of the metal here comes from one guitar, while the other one is far grungier.
As the album settles down and we find some consistency, we find a lot of grunge. The Storm kicks off in grungy style with a neat riff and what sounds like Jew's harp. The vocals are harsh and raspy but soft too, while the bass rumbles, as if these Brazilians are really a Seattle band in the early nineties trying something unusual to delineate themselves from all the other Seattle bands in the early nineties.
Much of the unusual comes in the form of intros and outros, which usually match because most of the songs here have bookends. Inside the Shadow starts bluesy with acoustic guitar and sassy maracas as if these are street musicians. The Shadow Inside starts with vocal harmonies and psychedelic guitar. Wheel of Fortune starts with a vinyl recording of Carl Orff's O Fortuna. In all instances, those sounds return much later in the song, usually to wrap them up, so, while they're notably different, they serve a similar purpose.
Just as we start to get used to thinking of the Psychotic Apes as a grunge band who like to experiment outside their genre, the songs start to diverge again. It's All About Puppets alternates between two voices, one floaty and clean but the other harsher and almost a rap, but it reminds more of a Suicidal Tendencies approach than anything from a chart rapper. This one speeds up too and that metal guitar comes back for another solo.
However, it's followed by Lovely Dirty Words, which sounds more like an acoustic Guns n' Roses ballad, like Patience. And then the album wraps with a song sharing its name with the band and the album, so I presume it's their anthem. It kicks off with ethnic rhythms and a playful bass that sets up the riff the guitars promptly take on but just as promptly avoid so that the focus can shift to the vocals that work some interesting harmonies.
Apparently, the Psychotic Apes were formed in 2019 by Ramiro Barros, one of the two guitarists, and Alax Bezerra, who's the band's vocalist. Later came Tadeu Marinho on second guitar, Miguel Dorcino on bass and Rafael Franzon on drums. Their goal is to merge grunge, metal, punk and regional music, which is exactly what they do, especially on the closer.
I'd love to hear this sound develop as they find a balance between those different styles. As it stands, grunge is easily the most obvious ingredient, with metal next and the other genres heard clearest in the bookends, but they do mix effectively in songs like Psychotic Apes and It's All About Puppets. This band just needs time (and maybe some better production) to truly find themselves because they're already interesting.