Amoth just embarked on a mission of the age-old hunter-killer, a cliché that thrives on innocent victims. Dive into a world of toothy and sharp-clawed monsters in search of scarcely clad damsels to distress to no end. Pulp fiction on vinyl that comes with a full moon and a gazillion hues of purple. The taste of the ’80s beckons you with a tale of gore and damnation. A full bodysuit might be in order, though. Cheese and blood stains are difficult to remove from your nightgowns. Just sayin’.
The RMR crew last came across that Finnish band way back in 2016 when they released Revenge, their prog-heavy latest studio album. This was the last1) record helmed by Tomi Kurtti who shortly thereafter defected to Mysterizer. The RMR deckhands indeed had some reservations about that last record with its bag of full of ideas but not enough time to really give them the credit they deserved. And this makes us wonder where Amoth will be heading next.
Now, after many moons of waiting, the band suddenly appears on our radar with their newest concoction The Hour of the Wolf. That’s not the first wolfish record that hit our review pipe this January, by the way. We’ll soon open a wildlife park over here at the RMR offices if that push continues.
The change in style hit us first. Revenge often was a somewhat confused medley of all things that
should could possibly be prog. Instead, the Wolf Hour here just takes off in full ’80s Heavy Metal fashion. A roaring, full-fledged nostalgic load of olde metal that gorges with ancient maidenisms and all-out airs of Judas Priest of long-gone days. Of course, the new vocalist Pekka Montin (Ensiferum) truly masters those metal screams that kinda went missing since Bruce Dickinson2) came of age. And Montin‘s versatile style often pulled that particularly wolfish wagon out of the mud.
Thus, first Alice and then The Man Who Watches The World Burn already pull all these strings to get that old metalhead’s heart beat faster3), stellar solo included. Ah, the times when metal was just that, unashamed wild screams that came on an abundance of screechy riffs and solos that weren’t born in shredding hell.
But things are deceptive on The Hour of the Wolf. ‘Tis a complex record that will need your time – and several listens for all that jazz to sink in. Trve Heavy Metal soon goes out the window and new flavors take the lead, often spiced with some outstanding guitar geekery.
It already starts with the #2 track but gets further traction in Wounded Faith. The latter thrives on bouts of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal with nods to mid-career AC/DC and – again – Iron Maiden. But then, we get a case of the leopard that cannot change its spots. Amoth almost gleefully veer off into the left-field and end up in some strange mix of Nevermore and Queensrÿche.
And from that moment, there’s no holding back with those miscellaneous prog urges. Admittedly, the former sense of abject chaos disappeared and more decent songwriting kicked in. Yet, the Amoth genome probably compelled the band to go for the weird. Or, how else would I explain the instrumental Wind Serenade series? Some acoustic prowess, pretty outstanding riffing and soloing, and jazzy prog notwithstanding, but these two claim airtime in the middle of the tracklist with a sure-ass attitude they don’t deserve.
And that, unfortunately, leads to those very same issues we already encountered on Revenge. A certain lack of focus that often leads to a wild firework of – stuff. One that sadly ends in the title track that seemingly has the refrain on endless repeat. The Hour of the Wolf on a galloping loop to nowhere. Now, some 47 minutes of total airtime are not excessively long for a record, of course. But bloat ain’t never pretty, and some careful self-editing would have preserved that crispness that we detected at the beginning.
But nothing is ever perfect, right? So, ultimately, the trip back to the fringes of the ’80s truly befits The Hour of the Wolf. The RMR crew here relished a record exuding that musty smell of age-old pulp fiction, full of garishly colored clichés that may seem outrageous to some contemporary liberal freedom warriors but hit right home at our office towers. Yet, more importantly, the tighter songwriting and better focus sealed the deal.
Now, off we go into the entrails of the dirty city to hunt that furry beast with an unholy penchant towards innocent girls. Silver crosses and bullets of the same metal should do it, right? I guess we’ll find out. See ya next time. Perhaps.
Record Rating: 6/10 | Label: Rockshots Records | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 28 January 2022
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