Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze – The Fractal Ouroboros

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Colorado based RABM masters Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze have given us an album with a shocking amount of both ritualistic atmosphere and punishing dissonance. The release not only lives up to the legacy of the band’s debut but breaks completely new ground, not just for the band but for the genre as a whole. Their furious rallying cry to dismantle oppressive systems is captured fully, but also imbued with an unsettling essence of dark mysticism. In short if you want an album that will get you tear down society in its current form but also leave you feeling somewhat haunted, then this is the release for you.

Artist: Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze
Album: The Fractal Ouroboros
Label: Fiadh Productions & Vita Detestabilis Records 
Release Date: December 21, 2023
Location: Colorado

Written by James Sweetlove

Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze is another one of those modern black metal projects that has taken all of the rage, anguish and unwavering fanaticism that black metal is known for and channeled it in a socially conscious direction. That direction happens to be the dismantlement of what they point out to be oppressive systems, including everything from the police and prisons to white supremacy and fascism. All of these qualities puts them pretty squarely in the RABM space, an area that I love to see receive critical acclaim.

If you aren’t familiar with the band or their debut album Offerings of Flesh and Gold, then you’re probably wondering, what does all of this sound like? Well the band have put an incredibly heavy focus on atmosphere. That isn’t to say that this is atmospheric black metal because it only is in part and not in the traditional sense. There’s such a heavy focus on dissonance that large parts of the album are almost smothering in nature. However its between these moments that the band leave the most powerful impact with genuinely dark and haunting segments that work in ritualistic and ambient elements. The balance struck between this heavy handed punishment and these immersive moments of respite make the release a must listen.

Vocally there’s a few things going on here. We have a shrieked black metal style that I can comfortably call the primary vocal style on the album. There’s a raw, biting quality to this style that gives it a real edge. This is only one of many styles at play though. You’ll also find a guttural style that shows itself frequently and has a real power to it. Then there’s the haunting clean vocal style that greatly adds to the album’s ritualistic quality. Outside of this you’ll find numerous different shrieks, howls and wails that further amplify the album’s already powerful atmosphere.

Guitar wise, one of the key tones employed is a stunning emotional sound that is often present in DSBM and atmospheric black metal. This takes a back seat when segments of dissonance are at play, as we get a far more biting an distorted sound accompanied by intense tremolo picking. For me though I love the simpler, more stripped back elements that are used in the more atmosphere focused moments on the album. The drum work on the album is also fantastic, shifting between pummeling unrelenting barrages and slow, depressive delivery that adds to the ritualistic effect on the release.

I have to also give praise lyrically, as the band have created something truly special here. This should come as no surprise to those we were already fans of their 2019 masterpiece Offerings of Flesh and Gold. However, for any newcomers, it shouldn’t surprise you that a band with such strong values and convictions is able to write music with a genuinely impactful meaning behind it. Take for example these lyrics from A History of Cages and Broken Bones, one of my favourite tracks on the album:

These children
We will eat them,
And vomit forth their skeletons
to build our walls

It’s not just their bodies and hearts that we feast on
It’s the future of their souls
The fight in their eyes.
This is what we eat

A history of cages and of brittle broken bones
A lineage writ of black boiling blood
The mirror of humanity,
A stone thrown towards a skull,
The lapping tongue upon
Spilt and splattered dreams.

A History of Cages and Broken Bones

Overall I think this is a fantastic black metal release and one that is worthy of all of the praise that I’ve seen it receive since its its release. If you like your black metal with some variety then this is a must listen, particularly if you enjoy both atmospheric and dissonant black metal. I think fans of the band’s debut will be pleasantly surprised by what they have created here and if not maybe just give it some time to grow on you.




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