The thing I like about Progressive Metal bands is that they don’t give a damn about standing out from the crowd like a sore thumb. And this being different thing actually helps them getting some fame. You find loads of little known gigs that most of the time produce a pretty decent note sheet. But for some reason did not get far yet.
Very often a band is called Prog, once it is impossible to really put them into a corner. This means being classified by the manic music classifiers. Without running out of ink or corners to put them in, whichever comes first. And this is the case with Amoth and their latest 2016 album Revenge. They are so diverse in their approach, that corners will start missing real quick and this is one of the major sales arguments they got.
The band formed back in 2006 in Helsinki and went on to record an EP in 2008. The first full length album Crossing Over got released in 2011. Revenge is their third record and 2nd full length album they are now unleashing this January and February 2016.
Amoth really got some interesting sound.
I detect something like Kansas of olden times, only more powerful and like multiplied by three. Mixed with some weird Iron Maiden-isms that seem to step right out of some sort of a dream, thrashily making short work of The Beast and its number. All that taken over by some sort of Progressive Metal tainted, fiery winged demon of the Alternative kind depicted on the album cover.
Speaking about the cover: When I see the sleeve, it just makes me want to slam the fire dragon or phoenix onto the back of my leather jacket, kick down my starter and off I go on my Harley. Love the album art, really very well done.
And they definitely have too many instruments to play around with. This mixed with a gazillion of tunes roaming freely in their mutual heads does not bode well for overall coherence, though. Not surprisingly, Revenge represents a fresh, free-wheeling, but somewhat confused side of the Progressive universe. But it is their very own version and for sure their own style. In a way this sounds like an early and uncut version of the newest Zierler dish of hot mutton stew ESC. And the bunch around the Zierler sphere of influence got the Prog art down pat to the latest detail.
Now I need to give Amoth that: A talented batch of musicians they are, this band. And in truth they have to be, it would not work any other way. The way they are splattering styles around their tune and somehow try to make it stick to the wall is really amazing.
But is Revenge amazing in a good way?
That is exactly the question. Methinks that less would be more in most of these tracks or in other words: Adding each and any style, just because they can, is not necessarily a good thing – unless you are really, really good. It don’t need to be a nihilistic approach to stuff neither, but – gosh – there is often too much packed into one single tune on Revenge to get really excited.
Perhaps their credo and I quote “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” (or also called the Law of Thelema from Aleister Crowley) may very well work against them in the long run. Unless they can muster the august technical prowess of the masters of Prog and Alt like Steven Wilson. And for the moment there are some snags in their tune preventing them getting there. A little like the latest concoction that got sent over from Leprous. Same issue with these somewhat rocky transitions that make your teeth grind.
Already the first track Die Young hits you like a ton of bricks!
With a felt billion of different styles and flavors, kind of looking into every nook and cranny of the metal universe to stuff something else into an already overstuffed bag. And Amoth do this full speed as befits the album. But so much so that you can easily get lost in this Chili Con Carne of mixed spices.
…And So They Fueled These Veins With Chaos gets us into a heavier mood and a little less confused, but also spiked with sudden turns that will take you by surprise. I like that one however. Still hellishly difficult to play and also to listen to as well, mind you. Now, Tattered Wings is the first one of three tracks that pull the record up. Still Prog, but also very good #metal or the crunchy kind. One of the best two tracks on Revenge, but a very few tracks are not enough to save the boat from foundering.
It is in the Road to Ruins – a juicy piece of Heavy Metal – where the lead really lets loose. Screaming around the stage like Marco Hietala during his best days, Amoth really deliver the goods. Pretty good riffing too in this piece of rocky delights. This one is true competition to Tattered Wings. And one of the tracks moving down a pretty straight line.
But then it comes: Ever heard from a failed rock ballad? Here is one in Children of the Night. Starting with an Dire Strait-esque intro, the track kind of errs into – what? – Jazz Rock territory, sounding really disjointed and without concept. So, nope. This won’t do. Sorry, guys. Now, in the last track Revenge (the title song) they redeem themselves again and really let the Prog beast out of the bag. And this one has promise and much more cohesion than many other tracks on this album. Actually wins them a star in the rating.
Now, what to make of this album?
Listening to Revenge and trying to review it makes me feel like being on the rack and torn into all directions. Amoth are a very talented bunch of musicians, no doubt about it. But this tendency to throw music elements in all different styles and flavors out into the open gets me this feeling of being in the tormented soup kitchen open on Guy Fawkes’ night. And it just ain’t helping. On the other hand, pockets of excellence suddenly appear that make you wonder what the record could have been. So, in essence, I find myself between a rock and a hard place. The talent I see, but the final version of the album can – out of sheer complexity – not really deliver the quality it deserves. And that is a pity.