If you’ve happened to read one of my EP reviews before and have a good memory for completely unimportant trivia, then there’s a chance that you might know that I love the EP format. After all, what’s not to like? It’s long enough to be immersive, but short enough not to be too long. That second clause sounds like something deeply profound from an ancient classic of Zen Buddhism, doesn’t it?
Up for discussion today is an EP from yet another new-to-me band, Apewards, who hail from Marburg in Germany (Google Maps tells me it’s north of Frankfurt and east of Cologne, and it looks very pleasant). The band have certainly been busy since forming in 2012, knocking out three albums and two EPS before this one. From what I can gather, the band recorded this as a trio, having to shed a second guitarist who played on all their previous records.
Apewards describe their sound as ‘wander[ing] between the worlds of Stoner and Blues Rock and on the edges of the Psychedelic universe’. Which doesn’t promise anything too ground-breaking, so ultimately it’s all down to the execution. The first impressions at least are good: I often find when I’m randomly skimming through stoner rock bands on Bandcamp and the like, that plenty of them sound instantly generic. Apewards aren’t doing anything remotely original, but they don’t immediately sound like anyone else.
Opener Strings Attached makes for a decent start. It’s energetic, singer Niko Gehle has a good voice, and the song is well structured so it changes and builds as it progresses. There’s also proper separation between the guitar and bass, so the band sound like a proper power trio should. Overall it’s good… but not quite good enough to really grab your attention and demand you listen again.
There’s also proper separation between the guitar and bass, so the band sound like a proper power trio should…
Eye To Eye is, for me, the best track on the EP. It follows the well-trodden path of a quiet chorus, building into a louder bridge and chorus, but Apewards put enough creative twists on it to make it worth a listen. The backing vocals during the verses are a nice touch and the progression from the bridge to the chorus is different enough to sound fresh. It’s a good song with a strong groove and a proper hook to draw you in.
Moon is more of a mixed bag. It starts off promisingly and the verse really works for me – plenty of drive and energy, but I really don’t like the chorus for some reason. It’s not bad, it just fritters away the momentum that’s been built up and falls flat for me. I’m also of two minds when it comes to the final track Shady Heart, which is more of a slow-burner. It definitely has a bit of a power ballad whiff to it, with a mellow verse and a big, emotive chorus. Sometimes I find it just a touch too cheesy, and at others I find myself enjoying it in spite of that. It’s delivered with sincerity, a tasteful guitar solo and, while it is a bit ballad-y, we’re not talking Celine Dion or anything.
And that’s your lot – four tracks in a bit under twenty minutes. Overall, I’d say that Peaks Vol. 1 is one of those records that I’ve enjoyed listening to for review, but it’s not something I expect to go back to. Apewards are an interesting band and definitely have their own things going on, but the songs on this EP aren’t quite strong enough to make me want more repeat listens.
Scribed by: Liam Blanc