Straight outta Utah – that’s probably the one meme variant I didn’t see over the last two weeks – but it would be appropriate for Athiest. I almost said it would be “apt” for the Salt Lake City native, but realized that might be confusing, since Apt is the name of the artist he passed along to us for review. While Athiest and his semi-ironic name hailed from the capital of the Mormon state (or if you prefer The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints state), his friends in Apt hail from Provo, Utah about 43 miles away. If you know Provo it’s either because of Brigham Young University or the fact they became the second metro area in the country to get Google Fiber (lucky f@%@s). Actually you may know Provo for the Imagine Dragons too, but they ultimately relocated to Las Vegas.
Anyway back to Apt, coming straight outta Provo, where not too many crazy motherf#%@$rs reside given 99% of BYU’s 30,0000 students are Mormons who adhere to an honor code. I suspect Apt are “athiests” too because I dedicate an entirely secular use of foul language and explicit topics, so you probably couldn’t even listen to “(almost)” anywhere on Brigham Young’s sprawling campus. The album’s press kit describes them as “hard hitting” and “in the vein of Grieves and Atmosphere.” That’s exactly the feeling I get from the track “So,” although I would say Apt’s vocal tone is slightly reminiscent of early Eminem.
“Eyelids flip open – nah let ’em shut again
Can’t seem to recall why he should give a f#%@ again
So down he’s tumbling, can’t help but be stuck within
Light another candle to the altar of his suffering
‘Oh poor boy! He’s had it so hard!
He’s so scarred and he thought he made it so far!’
SO WHAT?! Even he’s sick of his soul crush
He’d rather be sewn up and hold up like a grown up”
The track instrumental builds in intensity as the tale of anxiety and self-hate builds to a violent ending, leaving only the chirping of crickets in the night air with the protagonist no longer there. The songs are not all tales of woe though. “Arc” is an uptempo and arguably danceable track, with clearly live instrumentation from Chance Lewis and friends. I can’t name all of the friends as Athiest simply described them in his missive as “Apt and… a group of talented musicians from Provo.” Yes they are talented – I’m bobbing my head to the beat here. They also get credit for being adept at giving Apt a wide range of sounds to flow over. For example – “A Petty Tantrum” is a dark and electronic heavy track without crossing over into the unbreachable wall of sonic noise some similar tracks can be. It’s also well mixed as Apt’s vocals still come over the beat loud and clear, and from the credits I can find online Mason Porter gets dap for the synths.
There are a few guests throughout the 31 minutes of “(almost)” who were admittedly as unfamiliar to me as Apt himself before I played this album, though I appreciate the singing of Tyler Glenn on “Marrow.” I get a Gym Class Heroes vibe from the track and I’m digging it. What’s in the water in Utah anyway? I’m sure there must be mediocre or banal rap artists from there, but I don’t seem to run across them in the material I’m sent – just my good fortune I guess. If I had a complaint about “(almost)” it would be that it’s ALMOST an EP as opposed to an album – it just goes by way too fast. Not so fast that I can’t enjoy the guitar licks of “Antonius Block,” the purposefully morose and minimalist “Deep End,” and the hilarious throwaway track “Gilbro Bounce.” The bottom line is this isn’t an album about translating golden plates with a seer stone, or abstaining from alcohol and promiscuity, so whatever false assumptions you had of what a rapper from Utah would be can be discarded (if they weren’t already by Athiest). This is just quality rap that could have come from anywhere in the 50 United States.