At last, following what seems like a million sound alike nu-metal bands, a major label has the balls to push one unlike hardly any band heard before. LA's Apex Theory is that band, and the chaotic, heavy Mediterranean groove of Topsy Turvy is a welcome relief to rock enthusiasts looking for something a little bit different.
Certainly, the choice to pair a band like Apex Theory with the melodic sensibilities of a producer like Don Gilmore (Eve 6, Lit, Pearl Jam) is an inspired one, and perhaps the main reason for this album's success. Also, the band's ethnic heritage (three out of the four members have Armenian roots) has also helped contribute to the sonic diversity on display on this, the band's debut full-length album.
All this draws obvious comparisons to another Southern California-bred band featuring three members of Armenian ancestry -- System of a Down -- and, to a point, such comparisons are understandable. The Apex Theory do share some of the innovative melodic tendencies of their better known counterparts and the music is also as technically interesting and varied. The main difference between the two bands however, is singer Andy Khachaturian's voice, which, in its occasional resemblance to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Anthony Kiedis, is more appealing than the operatic warbling of System's Serj Tankian. The Apex Theory's sound is also more experimental and flowing as demonstrated on angry opener "Add Mission" and the hectic rhythm of "Mucus Shifters".
"Shhh . . . (Hope Diggy)" has already been a hit on MTV2 and is an energy-filled fusion of progressive and modern rock. The epic "Bullshed" begins with a hypnotic instrumental section and then develops into a memorable, original assault on the senses, and it's this song that draws vocal comparisons with Kiedis. "That's All" is a little less intense, and both its quickfire melodic motif and the technically brilliant drumming of Sammy J. Watson make it sound like a modern take-off of the Police. "Bravo" is more aggressive and brutal, yet still remains memorable, whilst the unusual "Apossibly" makes superb use of an ethnic-influenced lead guitar lick, and the host of interesting B-sections, electronic elements and odd time signatures amongst the remaining tracks break up the usual soft-verse-loud-chorus approach of current nu-metal acts.
At times sounding more like Rush than Linkin Park, Topsy Turvy is exactly as its title suggests, containing a mixture of styles that provide an original, refreshing alternative to the likes of Puddle of Mudd and others that have contributed to a stale and rather lethargic genre recently.