ALBUM REVIEW: Before & Apace – The Denisovan

In my reviews and other writings, I relish the chance to show off some piece of obscure knowledge. There is an element of joy that I get that can only be found as a result of two disparate topics coming together in the most peculiar of ways. And I think, just maybe, I’ve found a band that takes a similar joy in that idea.

BEFORE & APACE are a Canadian Progressive Rock band from mastermind Devin Martyniuk. The album is called The Denisovan and is named after an early species of human. The topics covered in this release range from ancient paradoxes involving gods and small animals to very mathematical triangles.

The album opens on Zeno which references the famous paradox. Lyrically this song shines in representing and referencing the paradox but also using it as an analogy for something else. The “something else” is hard to pinpoint but it feels as though it is chasing after the unobtainable. It is a song of adoration and affection but also one of regret.

The regret can be seen in lyrics like this:

“this time, I’ll make the choices that matter I won’t wait until it’s too late I’ll take my hands from my eyes and change; make a change “

 And then it will flip to adoration and perseverance in lyrics like this:

“no matter how fractured, my resolve remains. no matter your distance, I will see you, feel you, see you inside me.”

Zeno is a microcosm of the whole album, the contrasting viewpoints told from the same perspective. Nuanced musical techniques heighten these ideas but also limit them in a way that still allows them to be heard but change the tone significantly.

The song Simultanagosia makes my brain hurt in the most interesting ways. It has riffs based around the Fibonacci sequence and Pascal’s triangle. It builds the riffs so that the pattern becomes apparent and then subverts it. One, One, Two, Three, Five, Eig-Seven. Musically it’s like climbing the stairs in the dark and imagining there is one final step that trips you up and everything feels a little off kilter for a while after. This however is not simply the band being devilish tricksters but instead is meant to represent the feeling of mental disharmony. It’s a very clever way of representing this idea and I’m a little jealous I didn’t come up with it.

Fundamentally the song is about dealing with grief and the inner turmoil that comes with it. Lyrically the song is pure poetry of the saddest kind. This is understandable when you understand that Martyniuk’s mother was diagnosed with late stage cancer when she was his age. Complicated and awful feelings are expressed here and it feels wrong to say that I enjoy this piece with this context but there is an element of catharsis in hearing someone vocalise these thoughts.

I would fully recommend this album to anyone but with the warning that you should use the best speakers you have in order to do it justice. There’s a lot of depth here that can easily be missed and to not pay attention to it is to do yourself and the album a great disservice.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Jacob McCrone

The Denisovan is out now.

Find BEFORE & APACE on Facebook.

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