Artist: Apoptygma Berzerk
Title: Soli Deo Gloria (Re-Release with Bonus - 25th Anniversary Edition)
Genre: Synth Pop / Electro Pop
Release Date: 9th November 2018
Label: Artoffact Records
Twenty-five years old debut, ‘Soli Deo Gloria’, by Norwegian finest APOPTYGMA BERZERK sees a re-issue for its 25th birthday. Beside a re-mastered version of the original tracklist you get seven bonus-tracks which differ from the bonus-tracks of earlier re-issues of the album. The original songs sound a bit more open and brilliant in their re-mastered versions but nothing real magical happened here. Although the songs aged very well, you can definitely hear their age of course. To get an idea how the songs could sound nowadays – APOP releases an accompanying album ‘SDGXXV’ in April which offers remixes by hip and important bands like ANCIENT METHODS, CODEX EMPIRE, PORTION CONTROL, THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT and CLOCK DVA to name just a few.
My favourite song of ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ was always ‘Spiritual Reality’ - I still remember when I bought the CD in 1994 and how I started to love the whole album but especially this track. I believe the mixture of the harsher vocals and the more EBM orientated percussions and bass line made it to my favourites. Other “hits” of the album are ‘Bitch’, ‘Burnin’ Heretic’, ‘Stitch’ and ‘Backdraft’, which were all recently played at APOP’s headlining concert in this year’s edition of the popular German E-Tropolis Festival. Another highlight is the cover version of VELVET UNDERGROUND’s ‘All Tomorrow Parties’ which turned the classic Hippie-Rock anthem into a Synth banger with dominating bass line and drums. I am still impressed about the songwriting-skills which appeared on ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ for the first time and have led to several hits of the band in their career.
The bonus-tracks are nice but offer nothing real spectacular: ‘Borrowed Time’ was released in the single-collection in 2003 and is also known from a live-version from an earlier re-issue of ‘Soli Deo Gloria’. The song seems to be a very early track of the band, the vocals are very raw and the instruments (I believe the drums were performed with a Roland TR-909) are typical 90s style. It is followed by ‘Burning Heretic (Crisp Version)’ which is a more dance-orientated version of the classic with a riding bass rhythm that goes through the whole track. ‘The Sentinel (Nun of your Business Version)’ is an alternative version of the track made by American Christian Industrial band BLACKHOUSE. It is not that different to the even reduced original.
‘Ashes to Ashes (Guitar Version)’ is a more Rock orientated version of the song with its Punk attitude. That’s nice and it rocks! ‘ARP’ is the next bonus track, presented in its original version which misses all the percussive elements of the ‘808 version’, that is in the regular tracklist of the album. Next is the ‘4-track-Version’ of ‘Ashes to Ashes’ with reduced sounds (bass / percussions / vocals / pads) - it is nice to listen to such an early version. Last bonus-track is ‘Backdraft’ in the ‘Sarpsborg Synth Version’ is a nice version of a brilliant song.
Having now the well-known and beloved album that has accompanied many of us for 25 years now, in a slightly future transferred version with a more modern volume and psychoacoustic level is a welcome gift and will force one or the other to start spinning that record again. The bonus tracks are a nice-to-have add-on.
01. Like Blood From The Beloved (Part 1)
03. Burnin’ Heretic (Album Version)
05. Walk With Me
07. ARP (808 Edit)
08. Spiritual Reality
09. Skyscraping (Schizophreniac)
10. All Tomorrow's Parties
11. The Sentinel
12. Ashes To Ashes ‘93
13. Like Blood From The Beloved (Part 2)
14. Borrowed Time (Club Mix)
15. Burning Heretic (Crisp Version)
16. The Sentinel (Nun Of Your Business Version By Blackhouse)
17. Ashes To Ashes (Guitar Version)
19. Ashes To Ashes (4-Track Version)
20. Backdraft (Sarpsborg Synth Version)
Total: 9 / 10