Apples of Idun, formed in 2004, is a finnish group that's music is quite hard to categorize. There are elements from ambient, rock, electro and even pop in the form of some synths.
On their previous (self-released debut) album the band Apples of Idun was more of a Moisio's solo project with session members, but now the Apples have evolved into a whole band, which has caused a lot of changes in their style. Previously the band's emphasis was on industrial beats and effects with little organic touch. Now the band has changed their style to somewhat radio-friendly industrial rock, which of course means that they have added a guitar to their arsenal, and they have taken a turn for a lot more organic sound. The song quality has risen a lot, as the songs progress more naturally and have more hooks. The album itself sounds a lot more like a whole than the previous one. The vocals are still similar (but better), and some atmospheric and most ambient parts of the songs might sound familiar.
Synths have gone forward a lot since the last recording, sounding quite a bit less 'retro' and have more variation to them. Only a few sounds are still more or less weak, but it's not a big bother. The synths have a major role on the album, as they are pretty much present throughout the 50 minutes. It sounds as if the synths were built on the skeleton formed by the organic instruments, which really is the way to go; the synths have really been thought out to fit the moods and the songs, and work both as an individual and an supporting element. The vocals are still somewhat plain even in the shouted parts, but suit the music and the moods nonetheless, and after getting used to them they might actually sound perfect for the music. At least they sound original. The drums are near perfect, sounding both soft and powerful at the same time. The drum patterns suit the music perfectly, working both as a strong element in the music and as an extra spice in the compositions. The guitar brings in the aggression when needed.
The industrial elements and the real instruments are in complete balance, and together they create a quite original-sounding, varying and pleasant whole. Sometimes the industrial sounds are the main thing, sometimes the strings, but most of the time both different elements are very much present and create the soundscape by supporting each other. Add the drums and effected beats to this, and you'll have a record that lasts for many, many spins. All the elements on this record work on their own, too, so no matter what instrument you concentrate on, it will sound good.
The record holds many different moods and different kind of hooks, all of which are excecuted with talent. The music changes from even ambient calmness to aggressive guitar-based parts and something in between, which makes this album quite hard to categorize. The album doesn't get stuck to one mood for too long, which keeps the record interesting to listen to for it's whole lenght. All the changes in tempo and mood are well executed, and all the instruments get their time in the spotlight. Even though a certain part's emphasis would be on the synths, everything else has been well thought out, too, which is not as evident for all artists as it may sound like.
Disaster art means portraying something horrible and shocking in a way that turns it all to look beautiful. The lyrics tell about the world's negative aspects as well as "chaotic" feelings, but the music sounds logical and even beautiful at times, so I think they really achieved what they were aiming for. The cover arts feature colourful splatters, which fit to the context.
All in all, there really isn't much to complain about. Some people will probably complain about the record holding so much of different moods, but I see it more as a strenght than a weakness; they could tighten their expression a bit, though. Other complaints may include the band's sound taking a major step towards mainstream, but to my ears this record is far from actually being mainstream music.
I recommend people to check this band live if they get the chance, as I think their sound and atmosphere might work even better live.