Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
Buy On
  1. May 11, 2011
    Apocalypse is Bill Callahan's newest cryptic journey into the heart and art of this American life.
  2. May 3, 2011
    Callahan's stripped away a good degree of the hooks present on Eagle, and in the process he's made a more serious (and, sure, self-serious) album. He's a talent prodigious enough to warrant a lateral move, and Apocalypse will find its rightful place in his 20-odd-years-long canon.
  3. Apr 27, 2011
    Callahan's made plenty of fine albums-some of which boast higher highs than this one-but Apocalypse is such a satisfying and downright elegant listen because of its commitment to a narrative arc; as soon as it ends and you step back, the album takes the shape of a remarkably complete thought.
  4. 80
    A fine addition to the canons of both Callahan and American music.
  5. Apr 20, 2011
    Credit Callahan then not just for his latest vision, but for how he done it.
  6. Apr 14, 2011
    This latest effort is more muted, but no less complete, with fabulous images of rustic solitude and existential dread married to smouldering country-rock.
  7. Apr 13, 2011
    Apocalype then, is another Bill Callahan album, similar to those that came before it, with some particularly beautiful songs and some particularly considerate musical accompaniment from the band he has gathered around him. That it happens to be both heartbreaking and life affirming is just something we've come to expect.
  8. Apr 13, 2011
    Throughout, Callahan swings elegantly from soft and gorgeous to black and grinding. He's a tough man to pin down.
  9. Apr 13, 2011
    Callahan has nothing to add to the general conversation about music in 2011 but is making the best albums of his career.
  10. 80
    Apocalypse is Bill Callahan's best release in some while, sustaining a unity and intimacy of mood throughout.
  11. Apr 7, 2011
    Callahan is never anything less than consistent, however, and Apocalypse has an identity of its own.
  12. Apr 7, 2011
    Like the best singer/songwriters, Callahan is an English major's lyricist, and by deftly blending the personal, the political and the mythological, he again leaves us plenty to pore over.
  13. Apr 7, 2011
    Callahan has gifted us perhaps his most subversive set to date: an album less about apocalypse and ruin than it is upheaval of the positive variety, and one of the most contented and rewarding of his career.
  14. Apr 7, 2011
    Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle is like a Technicolor epic--brass accents, swelling strings and an odd, lingering hollowness at its core. Apocalypse, on the other hand, is more like an 80-minute Ranown picture--sinuous, slippery, less accessible, more satisfying.
  15. Apr 7, 2011
    Callahan continues to be a nature's poet, painting his imagery with the most carefully detailed observations of the everyday.
  16. Apr 7, 2011
    His 15th album--counting those as Smog--is a spare, rambling mix of country, blues, and '70s rock, but it detonates with lines so direct they barely sound written.
  17. Apr 7, 2011
    Apocalypse is a song cycle that places the usually extremely inward-looking Callahan in the unlikely role of observer and interpreter of various American myths; myths both externally held and culturally self-referential, that inform the interior world of the protagonist.
  18. Apr 7, 2011
    Apocalypse is keenly observed, distinctly humane, and predictably idiosyncratic; it is yet another minor triumph from an artist who, despite his constant self-deprecation, seems incapable of offering up less than his best.
  19. Apr 7, 2011
    Above all else, Apocalypse is an album about identity and rebirth, as Callahan shuffles through a variety of guises (gardener, sailor, songwriter) and styles (the Middle Eastern-accented "Universal Applicant") in a manner not unlike Sam Beam on Iron & Wine's recent Kiss Each Other Clean.
  20. Apr 7, 2011
    Far sparser and spacier than 2009's Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle, Apocalypse is embellished mostly with surgical bursts of distortion and the odd flutter of Astral Weeks-esque fiddle and flute.
  21. Under The Radar
    May 27, 2011
    Callahan eschews the gorgeous rococo arrangements that guided Eagle in favor of bare-bones guitar, muted fiddle surges, and a generally more restrained approach on Apocalypse, with ample space left for an emphasis on his rich baritone and trenchant lyrics. [may 2011, p.83]
  22. Mojo
    May 17, 2011
    Not one of his career's frequent great leap forward, but still a thrilling delivery system for his formidable gifts. [May 2011, p.100]
  23. Q Magazine
    May 17, 2011
    If his vocals sound phoned in on those, when he does engage, his half-spoken, half-threatening drawl on the homesick America! and Universal Applicant evokes Gil Scott-Heron, but it;'s not enough. [May 2011, p.112]
  24. The Wire
    May 3, 2011
    Throughout this solo effort--his fourth, for what it's worth--Callahan mumbles ever onward like a charmless, tranquillised version of Giant Sand's Howe Gelb. [Apr 2011, p.55]
  25. Uncut
    Apr 13, 2011
    Apocalypse is a wild thing which dances from one side of that line [between brilliant and bizarre] to the other with never-less-than-compelling abandon. [May 2011, p.89]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jun 30, 2011
    This is my favourite since A River Ain't Too Much To Love, though I still really enjoyed the last couple. One Fine Morning is my highlight,This is my favourite since A River Ain't Too Much To Love, though I still really enjoyed the last couple. One Fine Morning is my highlight, bleeding out a sense of clarity that matches his apparent inspiration. Full Review »
  2. Apr 15, 2011
    A cynic could easily criticize Callahan, whether recording under the Smog moniker or this one, for a lack of emotional range. And I wouldA cynic could easily criticize Callahan, whether recording under the Smog moniker or this one, for a lack of emotional range. And I would definitely see where they're coming from. Not many songs seem to stray out of the sparse, repetitive music, ambivalent dread and laconic poetry that Callahan creates for his songs. If you dislike one Callahan song, chances are that you're going to dislike them all. Being an avid Smog-fan, I think this is like criticizing Kandinsky for only painting lines. If you really listen there are many nuances to Callahan's work, and what he lacks in hooks and traditional songwriting talents, he easily makes up for with his artistic persistence and unique style. Full Review »