One of the nice things about being a writer is that, for the most part, you can pick-and-choose what you write about. Even so, there are times you get more than you bargained for. Such is the case with the latest offering from Tiamat. Still having fond memories of “I’m In Love With Myself” (from Judas Christ) and vocalist Johan Edlund’s Lucyfire solo project, I was looking forward to tackling this one. After only a handful of spins, though, I’m tired of listening to Amanethes. Clocking in at just over 60 minutes, it feels so much longer, and that is never a good thing. Combine that with the band’s failure to commit to a single style, and you have an album that has been among the most poorly received of the year here at Last Rites HQ.
Since I always like to cover the positives first, “Equinox of the Gods” keeps things metal with a slight blackening with a synth-backed heavy main riff and Edlund’s vocal growl, which may or may not hearken to the band’s early days (I haven’t heard any of it – sue me.) Following this up is the gothic “Until the Hellhounds Sleep Again,” which swings things back to the gothic end of the spectrum and the more familiar deep, clean Edlund vocal. “Raining Dead Angels” gets points just for the song title alone, but musically it’s not bad either, with another evil vocal and a catchy riff or two. Album opener “The Temple of the Crescent Moon” barely makes the cut due to the lame “It’s been five long years / but we are back again” lyrical theme. They should have renamed this “The Valley of the Crescent Moon” and made it about Dr. Jones’s quest for the Holy Grail. That would have been awesome.
That’s about it for highlights. From there, its clunkers like “Will They Come?” “Misantropolis,” and basically the last five tracks, which include misguided ventures into acoustics and the disturbingly Pink Floyd-esque “Meliae.” The album probably should have stopped with the instrumental “Amantis,” which isn’t a great track but would have saved us all from a heaping pile of sub-mediocrity. To be fair, “Via Dolorosa” isn’t all bad, but if you surround a rose with shit, you’re only going to smell the shit.
My initial reaction to Amanethes was more positive than this. I even went so far as to compare it to Moonspell’s recent venture back into heavier territory, but it didn’t take long for things to turn sour. I like diverse sounds as much as the next guy but I think they need to focus on one sound and stick with it. I actually started to miss Johan Edlund’s clean vocals after awhile as he started to moan and groan and even sound occasionally chipper. Overall, a pretty frustrating listening experience – even if a couple of tracks continue to find their way into my nightmares. Otherwise, I’m more than happy to push Amanethes aside and tackle a new album.