Formed in 1991 by Stephan Groth, Norwegian Apoptygma Berzerk has always been a band of transformations and contradictions. Originally labeled as an Electronic Body Music (EBM) / futurepop group and placed among similar acts VNV Nation, Mesh, Covenant, and Icon Of Coil, Apoptygma Berzerk (commonly abbreviated to APB or APOP) managed to create beautiful, empathetic, danceable electro music, setting genre standards with the albums Soli Deo Gloria (1993), 7 (1996), Welcome To Earth (2000), and Harmonizer (2002). They have continually been consistent and innovative in their treatment of the integral elements of Electronic Body Music, industrial music and the techno movement, in order to constantly create a new, unique mixture that is refreshingly different in accordance with their changing focus on the broadest variety of influences.
However, the electro label has never told the full story, as was evident early on. Already on their debut album which featured Bitch and Burnin’ Heretic as two respectable genre club hits, APOP held the listener captive with samples that often swerved from the path of essential influences like Kraftwerk, Front 242, Skinny Puppy, OMD or Psyche. This is emphasized in the number Skyscraping, containing samples from decidedly non-electro acts such as Alice In Chains, The Pixies, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, and Ride.
This conspicuous collection of guitar bands was never just an exercise in indulgence, and this is nowhere more evident from Stephan Groth & Co. than on the 2005 album You And Me Against The World. While Apoptygma Berzerk have always changed the sound, look and vocal style for each album, that one definitely represented the most dramatic stylistic transformation, marking a shift from the gloomy, yet danceable gothic synthpop to an unaccustomed indie rock feeling. At the end of the day, Stephan had said and done pretty much everything there was to say and do in the purely electronic sector, so this change seemed only natural, a change that continues in APOP’s latest offering, Rocket Science.
The new album (out next week) is spearheaded by the single Apollo (Live On Your TV), featuring guest vocals from Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden, and retains the rockier attitude of its predecessor whilst taking one step back towards a more electronic sound, thus leaving both new and longstanding fans satisfied. This time APOP are influenced by bands such as The Jesus And Mary Chain, Placebo, Queens Of The Stone Age, and UNKLE; as for their traditional revamp of classic tracks, it’s Suede‘s Trash that receives the cover treatment. If you are eager to listen to the album before its official release, head over to http://www.mtv.de/ for an advance listening session. You won’t be disappointed.