Artist: Delusions of Grandeur
Album: Apotheosis – EP
Delusions are defined as a fixed false belief that is grounded loosely in reality but explores the improbable and even impossible. Of course, that’s a “working” definition and used more often than not in a medical context—but in a simple sentence it pretty capably explains a very complex neuropsychiatric situation. There are, however, delusions that occur outside of a specific subset of psychological conditions, and chief among them are Delusions of Grandeur.
Now even if you’ve never opened a medical textbook or read about them in some book somewhere, I’ll bet you’ve heard of them, if not for the pathological component, then for the band with the same name—the band serving as the topic for this review. While Delusions of Grandeur is a fun name for a band, it’s a pure misnomer for this progressive metalcore act. Not because they aren’t grand in every aspect of the word—but because there isn’t a damn delusion about it to be found. There is nothing false or untrue about the band’s 2018 release, Apotheosis, as every song is a mammoth monument to the mastery of heavy, groovy, catchy, proggy metalcore. Pure and simple.
Delusions of Grandeur are a dynamic duo that stop at nothing to deliver groovy, fast-paced and ruthlessly heavy intensity right to the listener’s dome. Guitarist and lead groovesmith Gabe Mangold is largely to thank for why Delusions of Grandeur are as intriguing as they are—as his leads and devious, dynamic twists and turns throughout Apotheosis that keeps you coming back time and time again. Songs like the opener, “Groovetrain,” live true to their name, bringing a figurative freight train of furious low-tuned groove that hits as hard as a shotgun. Meanwhile, Mangold’s mastery of catchier, less chug-centric songwriting shines on “Shapeshifter” and “Look to the East,” the latter serving as a truly epic conclusion to the otherwise immense EP. Then, there’s the personal favorite, fuck-the-police anthem in “Five-0.” Here, Mangold brings back a strong southern infusion into his beefy metalcore framework, sounding like a Maylene-and-the-Sons-of-Prog fusion track, adding heat and flair to the rebellious cut with a ferocious solo and sinister twangy groove. If you haven’t gotten the big picture, here it is—Mangold and Delusions of Grandeur as a whole are a diverse and destructive tour of metalcore that ranges from overtly progressive to purely oppressive and everything in between.
Where Mangold’s fretwork might be heralded as the “main” facet of Delusions of Grandeur, that’s only partially true. Frontman Brent Vaccaro is just as vicious in his own respect, taking charge with a remarkable mastery over a great number of vocal ranges. “Groovetrain” and “Five-0” see Vaccaro’s harsh screams hit blistering bellows and screeching highs—although hovering mostly in a raw and grisly mid-range roar. Then, the catchy and serene “Shapeshifter” serves as a prime example of Vaccaro’s cleanly sung vocals, shining atop Mangold’s more moderate and less intense playing. Delusions of Grandeur’s vocal element is just as marvelous as their instrumental aspect, even if it doesn’t pack the same utterly impressive punch—as Vaccaro is less a true vocal household name as he is an excellent complement to the vast number of atmospheres and emotions that the group’s musicianship stops at nothing to capture.
Where it goes to progressive metalcore—or it’s shudder-inducing moniker, djent—Delusions of Grandeur have earned a lofty name for themselves even as a relatively “small” act. Where their previous releases have earned them notoriety among the prog-loving masses, Apotheosis stands to appeal to a much broader spectrum of heavy music enthusiasts, as Mangold and Vaccaro have truly outdone themselves—bringing justice and honesty to the release’s inherently grandiose name. Delusions of Grandeur’s EP is a deceptively big listen, hitting hellish breakdowns and moments of breathtaking beauty all in one moderate, 5-track sampler.
For Fans Of: Structures, Nexilva, Within the Ruins, Damned Spring Fragrantia
By: Connor Welsh