April Art – Pokerface
April Art is a four-piece band formed in Germany around 2014. Their sound borders multiple genres, crossing over from Heavy Metal to Nu-Metal to Alt-Metal to Melodic Metal at their discretion. This fluid delivery of heavy riffs, powerful vocals, and epic rhythms allows the band a wide swath of the metal landscape to play within. Metal fans from far and wide will enjoy this album for the sheer audacity they show in writing songs that smash through all the boundaries.
- Lisa-Marie Watz – Vocals
- Chris Bunnell – Guitars
- Julian Schuetze – Bass (Session)
- Ben Juelg – Drums
Pokerface will be independently released on September 30, 2022, supported by CMM GmbH.
- Interlude – Manifest
- Rising High
- Sky Is The limit
- My Way
- Interlude – Leave It Behind
- See The Light
- Start Over
- Interlude – Letters
- Leave It Behind
Pokerface is a wild mixture of all things rock and metal. From the title track, which opens the record, to the last track, “Headline,” you will hear bits and pieces of multiple genres and sub-genres. Not many bands dare to be this unapologetically diverse, so bravo to April Art for going big.
“Pokerface” starts with the spoken word advising us to follow our hearts. It’s not too late to quit following the crowd. The vocals are gritty and raw for the most part, mirroring the rough, down-tuned riff. The drums don’t really fit the riff, having a bit of an asynchronous feel to them. This works, though. The rhythm is primarily nu-metal, and the bass is right there with the guitars. The lead work is more melodic, offsetting the rhythm instruments’ harshness.
The next track, “Change,” begins with keyboards and more spoken word that transitions into singing seamlessly. The opening, which repeats throughout the song, has a bit of an electronic/industrial sound, augmenting the heavy riff work with something different. The vocals go from spoken to sung, over the music to masked under the guitars. The mixer for this record pulled off some tricky stunts and did it well. This must have been a serious challenge, but the vision paid off.
There are three interludes on this record; all are just short pieces meant to transition the listener to the next phase of the record. “Interlude: Manifest” is a short electronica piece, “Interlude: Leave It Behind” has a demo recording vibe to it that is an indication of what is to come in the full song, and “Interlude: Letters” is ambient sounds with keyboard tones and soothing vocals in an almost ballad feeling song segment.
“Rising high” and “Sky Is The Limit” begin with a vocal section and either drums or keys. The guitars go in and out of “The Sky Is the Limit,” giving the bass time to jump out front and flex a little. The lyrical theme of “Sky” is not going with the crowd, chasing your dreams instead. There is a definite inspirational tone to the vocals, reminding us during the bridge that the limits are self-imposed, only you are holding you back.
We get a ballad next. “Warrior” begins with keys and muted guitar tones with gentler lyrics and less volume to the voice. The song builds, going more into the power ballad realm, adding in drums and giving more power to the voice. There is a third step up at the halfway point, taking the song into full power ballad mode. The end of the song is abrupt and timed perfectly.
“My Way” takes us back to more of a power/nu-metal theme. The guitar tuning is heavy, and the keys are light and airy, contrasting in ways that give the song a nice complex pattern, expanding the width April Art has to work. They’ve now established they can go from soft rock to heavy metal and work efficiently between those two polar ends of their musical spectrum.
“See The Light” has some of the more epic clean vocals on this record. Lisa-Marie has an excellent, gritty voice, but this song highlights her clean belting. There are also a lot of killer shifts in the guitar phrasing, supported really well by the rhythm. This is the least nu-metal of the heavy songs on the record. There are no industrial or electronic sections to this one, which shows they can shift into almost any genre they wish.
One of the more noticeable features of “Start Over” is the repeated whispers of the vocals. Interesting guitar/keyboard tones also are used to give a futuristic feel. The guitar solo is one of the best on the record. There are plenty of good examples of lead work to the guitars, but this one stands out.
After the last interlude, the record goes into overdrive. “Superhero” starts the final phase of the disc with some almost progressive metal shifts in tempo and tone. The guitars and keys really feed off each other for the intro. The vocals are back to gritty, and the drums are controlled chaos, shifting the phrases and going from solid rhythm instruments to providing almost lead-quality fills. The heavy bass makes the riff sound even bigger than it already is.
“Try” and “Leave It Behind” rely a lot on the keys for the intros and then have the guitars surge in. both songs have the instruments drop out to give the vocals space to come in and establish dominance, only to have the guitars come back in heavy. “Try” has some male backing vocals that you don’t hear much of on this record, but they fit in beautifully. “Leave It Behind” has a pop feel, especially to the keys. Putting those tones in a heavy riffed track like this is bold, but it works well with the overall composition.
Taking us across the finish line is “Headline.” This is the song about making your mark on the world. The song is big and bombastic. The music is more melodic through the chorus and really fills the soundscape. The drums go into a bit of overdrive through the bridge and propel the song rapidly to the next section. This is another reasonably complex, well-written track that shows the diversity and dynamics this band brings to the world.
April Art has a lot to offer, and they put it all on display on Pokerface. They take risks and explore sonic combinations meant to excite the ears and get buried in the mind. The vocals are everything from grit and gravel to clean to whispers to spoken word. The guitars are fantastic, and they work both with and against the keyboards, handling both methods very effectively. The bass and drums are not the stock standard rhythm section, instead playing with the riffs and on their own terms.
April Art offers us ballads, power metal, and nu-metal and even throws in enough progressive metal to check that box, too. Mix in some electronic and industrial, and you have a unique blend of music that crosses genres and defies categorization. This is an exciting, relatively new band with a bright future ahead of them.
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 10
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9.20