Shadows & Signs


APOLINARA is a United States based band fusing symphonic, gothic, black metal and classical influences […]
By Kevin Lewis
January 4, 2022
Apolinara - Shadows & Signs album cover

APOLINARA is a United States based band fusing symphonic, gothic, black metal and classical influences into an interesting blend of tunes. Featuring some varied instrumentation, such as cello and glass harp, they create an alluring sound in the softer songs, but also have the brutal guitars, bass, and drums of the heavier metal realms. The keyboards lighten those heavy songs through lighter tones, amplifying the heaviness of the riffs. Their debut album, "Shadows & Signs," will be released independently on February 22, 2022.

The record starts with "Intro," a haunting piece with melancholy piano, dark cello tones and ethereal vocalizations. This leads into "Wonderful," a guitar heavy song with really nice counterpoint piano. The slight tinkling of the piano on the higher keys offset that heavy riff. Add in the lower end keyboards and you get a multi-tiered sound. The clean vocals are light and warm, again contrasting with the riff.

"Dragon Dance" is another haunting melody. It starts with an eerie intro that leads into a heavy, symphonic main riff. This one chugs along at a slower pace, but has a really nice heaviness to it that belies the tempo. The tuning is lower, but the vocals spend much of the time in the higher register still, again offsetting the tone. The verses have a lower vocal tone, but the chorus gets back to Apolinara's most often used tones. This song is ambitious, covering a lot of ground. The solos go from slower to shredding in a rapidly quickening pace. This is very well done.

The title track, "Shadow and Signs," is a complex arrangement, using a combination of blast beats and rhythmic patterns on the drums to set different tempos that blend well together. Adding in growled vocals, gives this song more different textures to the tones. The piano comes out front for a short bit before the guitars take back over. There is a lot to like in this song. The whole song just works well. It is one of the more intricate songs on the record and is beautifully done.

I have noticed a new trend with a lot of metal bands. That is to release a song as both electric and acoustic on the same record as an initial issue. I remember the old days when you had to hope they put out an acoustic album or added bonus tracks on a re-release years later. Fortunately, this new trend is gaining popularity and there is good reason. "Slowly" proves this.

The electric version starts with a piano, then shifts to guitar heavy with keyboards for ambiance. The song also features growled vocals. It is not the heaviest song on the record, but it is heavy enough to keep a metalhead happy. The acoustic version, on the other hand, uses a glass harp and has an almost gentle, lilting tempo. The strings are delicate and make the song stand out from the electric version. This is relaxing, gentle, soothing. The electric version is heavy and draws in a little tension. The two complement each other really well.

APOLINARA is adept at conveying emotion with their compositions and tones. From a little angst, to incredibly tense, to peaceful, they make the listener think and feel. The cello and violin are very well done throughout this record, adding not just instruments, but character to the songs. Apolinara's vocals are clear and quite lovely. Her tone is excellent and blends into the music perfectly. Overall, this is a really good debut record and portends great things to come.

8 / 10









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"Shadows & Signs" Track-listing:

1. Intro
2. Wonderful
3. You Can't Get Away with This
4. Dragon Dance
5. Slowly
6. The Smile of The Demon
7. No More
8. Shadows and Signs
9. Tears of Love
10. Slowly (Acoustic)
11. We Had It All

Apolinara Lineup:

Apolinara - Vocals
Fabian Morales - Growls
Vyacheslav Khabarov - Guitar/Bass
Tatyana Krasavina - Cello
Julia Polishchuk - Violin
Brien Engel - Glass Harp ("Slowly" acoustic version)
Alexander Kasiarum - Drums

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