Apoptygma Berzerk - You And Me Against The World

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Feb 8 2006, 4:50

Second review: You and Me Against the World

I must say I wasn't a huge fan of Apoptygma Berzerk in the past. I really liked some songs like Suffer In Silence or Until The End Of The World (yeah, probably their most commercial stuff). But the rest was maybe too purely electronic for me, I would only listen once in a while. Now, with this album, it's completly different. I know many fans of their older stuff dislike this album very much, as it sounds more mainstream. I can understand their reaction, but I personally do not think Apoptygma Berzerk made this change to gain more success, they have their hardcore fans and could live from it. More mainstream doesn't necessarly mean worse, as long as they keep their identity, something that makes their music unique. And one can easily say this is still APB, even though the songs' structures are more pop, with more guitar also. Anyway, let's get to this track-by-track review!

01. Tuning in Again 6/10

Ok, that's only a short intro, with some parts from the song "Tuning In To The Frequency Of Your Soul" in the background. Why do I even rate it? Well, some albums I know have a kickass intro that completly makes the 2nd track a thousand times better. Here, it's not the case. It's an ok intro, nothing too wrong or right about, not sure if it was really a necessary one, but who really cares, it's so short!

02. In This Together 9.5/10

The first single, the perfect radio track! In This Together just blasts a wall of sound into your ears. The guitar-driven intro is perfect and annouces an imposing riff, with majestic drums and fulfilling keyboards. At my first listen, my reaction was clearly "Wow! That's Apoptygma Berzerk??". Yes, that's the new sound. Actually, the other songs are not all as guitar-driven as this one, but it remains a good indication of what to expect about their new stuff. The rest of the song flows and nothing is wrong about it. It's extremely catchy, and it was the logical choice as the first single. Also, it's the song where he says the album title, at the end of the bridge "Don't you see it's you and me against the world?". I love this sentence! The lyrics are actually very romantic. Stephen's voice is outstanding through the whole song, especially in the chorus where he sings very well (indeed, some effects have been added to his vocals, but still). So, why did I not give 10? I'm not sure, maybe because now, after 5 months of intensive listening I got a little tired of it, but the only reason shall be that I listened to it way too much. And the reason why I listened to it all the time stands in the 9.5 ;)

03. Love To Blame 9/10

This track is already a little more electronic-driven, but you can hear a slide-guitar in the intro, which gives a unique feeling to this song. It's not an explosive song as In This Together, but the chorus is still as catchy. Stephen sings lower, and this is the kind of song that creates a halo around the music. Not very intense, yet still full of emotions, it's one of the first tracks that caught me at my first listen. However, just like In This Together, after tons of listens, I got a little tired of it. That's what happens with many catchy songs, unfortunately. Still, the lyrics are awesome and it remains one of the (many) highlights from this album.

04. You Keep Me From Breaking Apart 8.5/10

This song might be one of the few that still sound a bit like some of their older stuff. Some crunchy guitar that reminds of the one that is used in the In This Together intro makes the main riff/melody, but doesn't take the full place. Actually, that's a very electronically driven song. It makes you shake your head softly and sing along with Stephen's vocals, still full of emotions. I would say the lyrics fit very well with the music as a whole, also. Again, the music is not very intense but it puts you in a specific mood. The melody is not very long to learn, but it's not as catchy as the 2 previous tracks'. Something very positive: it seems I can't get tired of the song, even with my many listens.

05. Cambodia 9/10

For the second time, my first reaction was "WOW!". Cambodia is a very explosive track, full of energy, with extremly catchy vocals. Again, their new rock sound takes over the song completly and well I won't complain, this song just makes me happy. I found out a few weeks after this first impression that this is not an actual composition, but a cover from a Kim Wylde song from the 80's. I couldn't help being a little deceived Apoptygma Berzerk hadn't composed the song. After giving a listen to the original, I think the APB made an excellent musical job and that the energy the song provides can be fully credited to them. But of course, the catchy melody I was amazed about is Kim Wylde's job ;) Still, this is a strong song, perfectly placed in the tracklist. Did I get tired of it? Yes. But it took a long time ;)

06. Back On Track 8.5/10

A few weeks ago, I read some reviews about the album, and most reviewers seemed to agree this song was one of the highlights of the album. Well, I don't agree. Sure, the female vocals during the "riffs" are very nice, and the song is a good representation of a perfect mix between their new rock sound and their older electronic one. The melody is catchy (again) and the mood the song creates is correctly rendered by the music+lyrics combination. What's wrong about it? The chorus, I would say. I do not feel enough conviction in Stephen's vocals. Maybe it's the way they wanted it to be, it sounds right for him to have a kind of depressive voice considering the mood of this song, but I feel they tried to give energy to this song with the guitars and such, but that the voice and mood kill the attempt. The "harder" elements of the chorus don't sound completely right to me. But don't get me wrong, it's not something major, and it doesn't ruin the chorus, which I still like a lot.

07. Tuning in to the Frequency of Your Soul 9/10

This song must be most eletronically driven one from the album. They did not try to make a fulfilled sound, the verses sound a little empty to me, but it's played in full subtilities with very nice melodies in the background. And this is the effect they wanted to create I think, because this gives much more power to the chorus. The chorus is not filled with too many elements, but it's very distorted, and this distortion added to the lyrics and vocal rendition make the chorus very emotionally intense. "It makes no sense, we won't connect, the more I push the more you reject." sings Stephen in a kind of intensively desperate way. Also, one can't say the lyrics aren't original enough. The message remains pretty clear, but the theme chosen is brilliant. Why not 10 then? Well, the verses I guess. I understand the need for them to be a little more empty (Stephen sounds kind of numb in them, which fits well) to give the chorus full-power, but my listens are eager waitings for the chorus.

08. Mercy Kill 9.5/10

Back to these reviews I read. Most of them rated this track as one of the weakest from the album. Again, I totally disagree. I must say I am not sure what I like so much about the song. It just flows, everything seems right, the verses and the choruses come one after one and I can't see the time pass while this song is on. The chorus' lyrics are awesome, and what I thought was problematic in Back On Track seems to sound right here: the more powerful elements don't kill the more depressive mood from the song, the balance seems to be perfect this time. Stephen's vocals are again one of the main reasons why I love this song! How great is he!

09. Lost in Translation 10/10

The "soft" track of the album I guess, with clean guitar and a lot of special effects in it, mixed with some distorted keyboard. The mood created by this song is amazing. Everything makes a perfect whole: ambiant guitar, sad vocals, soft electronic drums. There are not too many elements and the song might sound a little empty, but the effects used on each of the elements help creating a whole, the different melodies played at the same time are perfectly harmonized. And I would say that, more than ever, Stephen's vocals make the song. They are beautiful, leaded by touching lyrics. We can feel the bitter defeat, yet he sounds resigned and hopeless, numb. I listened to this song over and over again and I am not even a bit tired of it. Definately my best pick from this album.

10. Maze 9/10

Another very high rating? Well yes, I love every single song on this album ;) To make the transition between Maze and Lost In Translation, a quiet intro starts this song, in which we can hear the chorus in the background...then BANG! The guitar starts its riff and wow, this must be the heaviest riff they've ever composed, I almost thought it sounded like metal. Actually, very fast after the verse has started, you can see this is not a metal song at all, but still the guitar riff is heavier than ever, and it gives a lot of energy to this great song! Stephen sounds a little angry and provocative in the verses, and he uses his usual grandiose vocals in the chorus. The drum beat is pretty fast, but the song doesn't really sound aggressive overall. Maybe this is just a great mix of metal and pop music. The funny angry vocals shouting "Let me out of this maze, let me out of this maze!!!" in the background are good and can almost be considered like another electronic effect that adds intensity to the song. This was the perfect place for Maze to be placed in the tracklist since no real energetic song had been heard since Cambodia. And just like Cambodia, this is a song that makes me happy on sunny days! ;)

11. Into the Unknown 9/10

For the normal edition of the CD, this is the closing track. It's another pretty energetic one. The chorus "How long must I wait for you?" will most likely remain in your head after the album is over if this is the last track you hear ;) I am unsure whether the intro is made with a very modified guitar sound, or very distorted electronic sound. Anyway, it sounds fine, and a guitar gets in shortly and plays the main melody of the song. This is another song that represents very well their new sound. Even though it took a while before the song grew on me, now I can't seem to get tired of it, and I often play it several times in a row, since once does not seem enough! The lyrics are once again very good, and the mixing very well done, there is not much wrong I could say about this song except the fact I would maybe have liked it a little more explosive, faster.

12. Shine On 9/10

This is one of 2 bonus tracks on the limited edition of the CD. At first, I thought it was definately the weakest, sounding too musically empty maybe, and the lyrics are very weird (chorus: "she, she she she shine on"...). I later discovered it also was a cover, from the band House Of Love. The original song was only made a little more than 10 years ago and after giving a listen I can say the original sounds pretty nice, probably heavier than this one. Anyway, I have no idea how to tell how surprised I was when they announced this song would be the 2nd single from the album. My mouth literally dropped. First, how can a bonus track most people are not supposed to have be a single? Aren't bonus tracks supposed to be a little less good, be one of those tracks that did not make it to the "real" thing? Also, in my opinion, it didn't have much potential for charts. But I kept listening to it every time with the rest of the album, and well, it ended up stuck in my head for about 2 months. Really!! That's completly crazy, I just couldn't help listening to this damn song all the time! I'll still say it is objectively not the best from the album, but it is the one I have heard the most now, and I seem to still want more. How it happened, I have no idea, I just keep singing it and it's a lot of fun every time. The chorus is really too simplistic...but who cares, it's fun to sing...I guess. I have seen the video recently and it's a very great video, I must say. Maybe it helped the song, cause it hasn't been a commercial failure, I actually think it made a little better than In This Together on charts (I am not 100% positive about it though). It's hard for me to make a conclusion about this song. Maybe I can just say that this is what good popmusic is all about, catchy stuff with not so much work behind it. So now let's all sing "She! She she she shine on!" and feel a little guilty of it ;)

13. Is Electronic Love To Blame? 9/10

This 2nd bonus track is actually a remix of the song Love To Blame, and as it suggests, the guitars have been removed and it's a 100% electronic remix, that gives a more ambiant feeling to the song. But it sounds just as fine as the original, I would say it even sounds a little more catchy at the first listen. They have not made the song too different, but enough for it to be relevant to give this one as a bonus. It's a nice way to end the album and if you have the limited edition, the ending melody played on keyboard will be stuck in your head and you'll want to listen to it "just one more time..." (and so on ;)). The danger is that it can make you feel like listening to the original, and then if the rest of the album is still right after it in your playlist, you'll end up listening to the whole thing again...and again...and again. Believe me, I know what it's like :D

Overall rating: 9.5/10

Well, that's a fabulous album that's been running in my player for months, and yet I don't think it's any near an end ;) Catchy songs, very nice mixing, tons of electronic elements to fulfill songs, guitars to make their sound heavier than before, very emotional, true and tight vocals, pop structure. Everything was in place for this album to be a great commercial success (and it's been), but also for them to gain more fans *looks at himself*. Good job, Apoptygma Berzerk!

Top tracks pick: ALL! really! Except the intro, maybe ;)

Commenti

  • MixDaVirus

    Amazing review, and I can say that as Apoptymga fan that you hit the nail on the head. I am both a fan of the older and newer stuff. This album does sound a bit more mainstream, but takes nothing away from Apops sound. Friend me and hope we can learn some more musical info from each other. I am addicted to Lastfm as well. :P

    Mar 17 2006, 20:55
  • purplevelvet

    firstly, what a well written review, well done! :) secondly, yes, i love this album, too! played it virtually non-stop when it came out! (in the end i managed to brainwash my own teen kids into liking it and sing along to 'in this together', despite the fact that they usually hate my 'goth' and 'electro' music, amazing what repeated play can do....;)) also, at the same time the new depeche mode album came out and it never got a chance with me, i actually 'forced' myself to it, but it really couldn't compete with apop's amazing vibrant sound!!! (i even wrote about that in my journal, too) thirdly, i'm hoping to see apop play live here in the uk soon, that will be great! and, last not least: i still like the older stuff, too! (sign of a good artist, i reckon) @ddicted to music and last.fm!!! (sometimes i think (i am sooo industrial!) i must be a cyborg, connected to all those computer wires, lol!) [img]http://www.denness.net/rpi/username/purplevelvet/fs/8/[/img]

    Mar 29 2006, 10:41
  • MadCowDzz

    Perfect review... I've read a lot of people slagging the album, but I think anyone can agree that your review is well written and backed up by evidence and opinions... not just the new album sucks coz apop sold out For the record, I do love the album... I just read a lot of people saying that :D

    Giu 8 2006, 1:42
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