The Appleseed Cast – Mare Vitalis

The Appleseed Cast
Mare Vitalis

The Appleseed Cast’s first album, End of the Ring Wars, was a modern epic of post-hardcore, emo rock, off-kilter, dark, and sometimes obtruse but always perfect. The band’s new album, Mare Vitalis (Living Sea or Sea of Life), doesn’t seem to be a story/concept album as the first was. But it also shows a maturity and cohesion of styles that the first album lacked. And it was released just in time to make my top 10 of 1999 list. It’s that amazing of an album.

If you haven’t heard the band before, they’re farily hard to describe. A lot of bands are playing a style of more melodic post-hardcore these days, but The Appleseed Cast does it with a little more of an edge. They put storytelling first, conveying what is more poetry than emotion. And the vocals are just grating enough to provide the element of sincerity and feeling to the words being sung, or, at times, belted out with a passion. The music is often changing: slow to fast, loud to soft, with no holds barred on the electric guitar, incorporating screeches and squeals into the mix. All in all, they’re unique, and that’s enough to make them good. But the songs themselves on this album are so damn good, that makes them even better.

“The Immortal Soul of Mundo Cani,” despite being cryptic in title, kicks off the album and sets the dark, introspective mood. The opening sounds like the opening to Indian Summer’s emo-core album, dark and deep in bass. And then “Fishing the Sky,” probably the best song on the album kicks in, more upbeat and tight, tighter than any other song I’ve heard by the band. It’s loud and fast, catchy and intense. And then “Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets,” beautiful, with double vocals, a catchy guitar hook, and lyrics both understandable and poetic. “” “Mare Mortis” is an instrumental with a great guitar riff (but, alas, the saxophone from the band’s first album is missing here). “Santa Maria” and “Secret” sound like they could have been on the band’s first album, but the production quality is far improved here, and the music flows so much better for a more cohesive and enjoyable song structure. Thankfully, the edgy, off-kilter vocals are still present. There’s some different vocals, much deeper, on “?and Nothing Less.” “Poseidon” is one of the most “emo” of the songs I’ve heard from the band, with slower and faster parts, more emotional vocals and lyrics, and clear, crisp guitar. And “Kilgore Trout,” named after the Vonnegut character, by the way, picks right up, faster and angrier, with the line painfully sung, “You won’t listen!” “Storms” finishes the album, like it’s title, loud and furious yet melodic. And there’s another hidden instrumental at the end, long and screeching.

Appleseed Cast have mastered the melodic post-hardcore story-telling, with passionate vocals and serious mood. These songs require at least five listens before grasping the complexities and before the lyrics begin to unfold. While The End of the Ring Wars was edgy and powerful, this album is more powerful in a sad and desperate sort of way. And the band has clearly learned a lot, stepping up the production and vastly improving the guitarwork in each song, making this album nearly perfect.