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Something borrowed, something blew...

Ape
Survival of the Fittest
Barred Records
Reviewed by Kent Manthie

Canada’s Ape has just released their first full-length CD, not counting the very limited demo they made, but not for the public at large, although, those who get into Ape will, no doubt, find themselves looking for it. Anyway, the new album is entitled Survival of the Fittest and it’s a CD full of regular, no frills rock and roll on the hard edged end of the spectrum.
They have a good vocal capability here, Everett Mason, being the front man, producer and main songwriter, he also has bassist Galen Weir to occasionally complement him on background vocals and in a great 2-part harmony. Mason’s guitar playing is the driving force of Ape. He has an edgy, distortion-ready knack for keeping his killer licks in the foreground. But the other two that round out this trio, the aforementioned Galen Weir on bass and Carlos Aguilera on drums couldn’t be counted out. In other words, it takes all three of them to make Ape who they are. Two other fellow Canadians help out on Survival of the Fittest: Jeremy Kelynhans, who plays drums on three songs: “It’s Not”, a tight, rocking fever blister of a song, “How You Left Me”, which reminds one of Alice in Chains, circa their first CD, Facelift, when they were more metal, before they became the “grunge” heroes that was singlehandedly changing the face of music for the better back in the early 1990s. Even though “grunge” isn’t really around much anymore, the crap that bands like AIC, Nirvana and Pearl Jam displaced was a breath of fresh air to anyone who listened to the radio or was exposed in any way to commercial music. Jeremy also plays drums on the final cut, “Barred”, a cut that sort of sounds like Judas Priest, who, it sounds like, had a big influence on Ape and/or Everett Mason.
Sean Gregory also helps out on this CD, singing background vocals on “How You Left Me”. But for what it’s worth, Ape is a trio and, stripped down, as a trio has to be, it lets them stand out in the spotlight and not hide behind a lot of extraneous noise, standing naked, as it were, being that much more aggressive and that works.
Two more cuts that are worth mentioning are: 1) the instrumental “Irate Primate”, which recalls Iron Maiden at their finest, with a damned great guitar solo, awesome bass maneuvers and kick ass drumming and 2)”Beyond the Depths of Reality” – another showcase for Mason’s awesome guitar playing. This one has a noncredited backing vocalist/harmonic second, unless Mason overdubbed his own voice. It’s 6 minutes of pure feral rock ‘n’ roll.
This is definitely no regressive move back to 1980s hair bands and their “power ballads” and phony metal pop songs, no these guys rock like Judas Priest used to and put their own unique 21st Century stamp on it and the result is a crazy-groovy CD. Besides sounding like Iron Maiden in some of their guitar work, Steve Vai is another guitar god that comes to mind when listening to Survival of the Fittest. And the best part is that it doesn’t slow down, it just keeps steamrolling ahead, not boring one or tempting you to hit the “forward” button on your CD/MP3 player. -KM

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