Greg Minier (The Crucified, Minier) has resurrected his solo/side project Applehead to release the first new record in 31 years. I find it inspiring to see musicians resurrecting projects to give us a another look into their creative process. Greg is best known for his work in the thrash/cross-over band The Crucified, but Applehead doesn’t play by the same rules. Applehead’s debut “Meaning” is a heavy grunge album that lived mostly in a mid-tempo universe. I was not a huge fan of the debut. The press on “The Light Side of the Apple” alludes to a metal onslaught hearkening back to the original days of hard rock. If the title of the record is any indication, I expect a Pink Floyd reference.
Now when I say solo act, Greg does almost all of his own stunts: drums, guitars, synthesizers, singing, but not bass. I am not entirely sure why not bass because of similar tuning to guitar, but there might be a good reason. In any event, Greg brought in Jaymi “Pinkbassman” Millard (Mark Slaughter Band, Slaughter) to fill in the basement.
Applehead has left behind much of the grunge of their debut and embraced a heavier metal focus. There is a layer of 90s hard rock zeitgeist to the record as it takes a fresh take on a wide range of genres that play to Greg and Jaymi’s strengths. Greg’s guitar work is wide ranging and blends technical lead playing and melodic sensitivity. The solos are great musical statements throughout the album. Jaymi’s bass work complements the compositions well and shines on its own. You can hear how much fun they had making this album!
We start off with “Raze Hell,” an apocalyptic classic metal song about Jesus’ second coming. There is a nice mellow break in the middle that feels a little out of place, but is an oasis in the sea of heaviness. “Down” is the next track and the leading single for the album. It has a 90s hard rock/grunge feel to it, but in all the right ways. I like Greg’s singing style which is quite melodic but not over the top. Jaymi’s bass playing gets a chance to shine in the middle of the song. Right towards the end, Greg shows his drumming prowess with the double bass action picking up the pace.
The next song has Applehead kicking it up into thrash metal territory with “Worthless Words.” The lyrics deal with the duplicitous nature of the Devil’s words that they are through-and-through worthless. Greg’s voice on this track reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult’s Eric Bloom with his gruff mid-register. “Pretty Creepy” takes the tempo down a bit, but keeps it heavy. This song is a melodic song that tells the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah from Samson’s perspective. The approach is quite interesting. Samson remarks of Delilah that she is “pretty. Pretty creepy.” The vocal melodies are very catchy.
The next song is the power ballad of the album, “And Then the Rain Came Down.” Synthesizer and clean guitars give a hopeful atmosphere throughout the track. It makes use of sustained power chords to give it a little more muscle. Ballads can be hit or miss in heavy metal, but this is a great example of one done right where Greg’s voice is not too sappy. The tempo stays on the slower side for the next track “In Pouring Rain” which speaks of how Jesus washes away every sin. This one is more of standard hard rock tune, but decent enough.
Then the highlight of the album: “A Harmonic Minor.” This song hits all of the right notes! The tempo gets cranked up to 11 and we are back into thrash metal territory. Double bass action and some pretty sweet guitar licks set the stage for this metal anthem. The lyrics make reference to the A harmonic minor scale and metal music, but it is tongue-in-cheek that makes it awesome rather than cheesy. Greg delivers a ripping solo leading to the climactic final chorus.
The last song is a 13-minute epic in three parts, which is probably the Pink Floyd reference. The lyrics change point of view from narrating the story to playing the parts of Jesus and Satan. The first part, “Redemptio” journeys from original sin to Jesus’ birth and to His Passion and death. Musically, it is a journey through many genres as we start in heavy sludge metal territory, then speed metal with a sweet melodic interlude. The end of the first part is where Jesus narrates His passion and death ending with “it’s finished.” “Resurrexit e” is focused on Jesus rising from the tomb and what His disciples are up to. The music builds in hope and power to a melodic metal climax. The break right at the end describes Satan’s torment from Jesus’ victory as a prelude to “Ultima Pugna,” the final battle. We land back in fast heavy metal territory for a final flourish to the album.
“The Lightside of the Apple” is a marked change from “Meaning” with a stronger appeal to the Christian metal fanbase. Excellent musicianship from both Greg and Jaymi executed on solid songwriting make this quite a fun listen. The wide breadth of genres represented will make this a great addition for almost anyone except maybe the most die-hard extreme metal-head. I particularly enjoy the strong Christian lyrics; the final track is a neat devotional a la Applehead. If this piques your interest, keep your eyes on Roxx Records, Nordic Mission or one of the other music retail locations for this release.
NB: I want to mention I got 11 tracks to review. The last three were track versions of the three parts of “Destiny.” I liked that I got to hear where the breaks of the three songs are but I am not sure what the CD pressing will look like as you may get a repeat of “Destiny” in individual tracks.
Written by Sean Bailey
1 – Raze Hell
2 – Down
3 – Worthless Words
4 – Pretty Creepy
5 – And Then the Rain Comes Down
6 – In Pouring Rain
7 – A Harmonic Minor
8 – Destiny:
- Part I: Redemptio
- Part II: Resurrexit e
- Part III: Ultima Pugna
Greg Minier – guitars, drums, vocals and anything else besides bass
Jaymi ‘Pinkbassman’ Millard – bass
Release Date: September 1, 2023
Record Label: Roxx Records
The Light Side of the Apple (2023)
Social Media: Facebook