Mike Byrne - Stygian Apothegm
Self Financed
6 songs (27:09)
Release year: 2003
Mike Byrne
Reviewed by Jay

When I first popped this disc in the CD player, I was not sure what to make of this demo. The intro to “No Name” sounded a lot like some of the stuff My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult has done. The freaky guitar intro was unique and I liked it. After about a minute, I realized this would be all instrumental. Byrne plays guitar on all the tracks but all the drums and other sounds are samples. It was an interesting experiment. The next song, “Peanuts,” had more of a metal feel to it and shades of Ministry can be heard here. I really wish there were vocals to accompany this music though. In addition, the samples work well but they cannot substitute for live players. Recently, I saw Ministry live and they have two kit drummers on stage to re-create the bombastic sound of their albums. With a thundering bass and a good drummer, this music could be awesome.

Distraught” begins with some guitar soloing and multilayered melodies as well as sample work. The bass really needs to be stronger on this track in order for it to drive the metal message home. However, I really liked the weird harmonic tones he throws in for the chorus. These are similar to tricks used by Skinny Puppy and Razed in Black. Technically, Byrne is a great guitarist but the songs need a little more variation. This is another aspect that a live band brings in. “Carcass” however is an interesting song. Starting with an intro reminiscent of “Broken” era Nine Inch Nails, the song becomes a melodeath track quite quickly. I know Byrne is a Skyfire fan and their influence can be noted here, especially in the chorus soloing. The effect of layering so many guitar parts on top of each other is well intentioned but can obscure the music sometimes.

Apus” is one of the slower and mellower songs on the album. The lack of bass really detracts from the song. The main melody has nothing to support it other than high-pitched high hat samples. A bass line would drastically improve this song. The solo reminded me of something Alexi Laiho might have done circa “Hatebreeder.” Interestingly enough at the same time the song also sounds contemporary with System of a Down influence. The final track “Apothegm of Life” has roots steeped in In Flames. The track is very similar in the style of “Moonshield,” evoking the same themes and style. The samples in the background add additional depth to the work and I question why these have not been used earlier in the album. Again, the guitar work, while good is very close to that of Gelotte and Stromblad.

Byrne has a good start here. With a live band (especially a bassist), this could have lots of promise. All the songs mentioned here are available for download from the website listed at the top of the page.

Killing Songs :
Apothegm of Life, Carcass
Jay quoted 60 / 100
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