Amanethes (Nuclear Blast)
By Scott Hefflon
It’s a sign of the times when a Tiamat album comes out and flies under my radar. I love Tiamat and have since ’94’s Wildhoney. I have that CD in my faves stack and the poster on my wall. And two or three others in the faves collection (but no posters) plus the side-project, Lucyfire’s This Dollar Saved My Life at Whitehorse. Yeah, I’m a fan. That fact that a solid album like this can come out and a long-time fan doesn’t notice is a problem record labels are surely facing after slashing their ad/banner budgets.
Amanethes is a clunky name for a record, especially after Judas Christ, Skeleton Skeletron, A Deeper Kind of Slumber, and the aforementioned Wildhoney (and, evidently, Prey, in 2003, which I missed as well).
Amanethes starts off all bad-ass, like Moonspell trying not to be all Gothy. Song three, “Until the Hellhounds Sleep Again,” gets back to the somber dirge we all know and contemplate slitting our wrists to. Johan Edlund’s voice has gotten deeper, as well as more snarling (elsewhere). I still enjoy the purity of Wildhoney, which opens with doom and ends like Pink Floyd, and the trip is so seamless, you never snap to attention and say “what’s this shit?” Most CDs don’t have such flow, so to ask this or any CD to flow so effortlessly is too much to ask for casually.
My favorites, despite loving their doom roots, are the deep Gothic/atmospheric tunes. “Until the Hellhounds Sleep Again” (and later, the more doomy “Via Dolorosa”), like Lucyfire’s “Pure as Sin,” are plodding, past the point of glam ballad. If “Home Sweet Home” made you light your lighter in the air, these’ll make you flick your Bic, stare deeply into it, and contemplate, well, whatever it is that you personally contemplate while staring into flames.
“Misantropolis” and its closer, the instrumental “Amanitis,” are glorious. It’s the sound of standing on the rocks at night, the waves crashing rhythmically about you, of foaming abuse and silent withdrawal (never underestimate the power of the undertow), the steady, strong wind in your face, the full moon and stars shining from above, the cosmos almost seeming touchable amidst the never-ending crashing of the sea upon the shore.
Closing doomers “Circle” and “Amanes” come close to Wildhoney‘s ability to close the CD dramatically after opening heavily, but they’re too heavy-handed, and not as effortlessly breathy and “there’s always someone wishing you dead whilst you sleep.” So yeah, three years in Greece has done Edlund well, but after many good songs on many good albums, the bar is set high for such a band.