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Sunday Old School: Tiamat

As a teenager in Britain, myself and any other guy with long hair, or even somebody wearing an Iron Maiden hoodie, was immediately classified by the non metal listening peers as a Goth (spelled "Goff" of course due to the average intelligence of these people.) It may come as a surprise to any of these people who think/thought this way then, that Gothic metal is a thing of its own, with not a great deal in common with the likes of Judas Priest and Deep Purple. Paradise Lost are often credited as the band which created the genre, which went on to create more pioneers, favourites and legends, including today's featured band, Tiamat.

Tiamat were formed in the municipality of Täby, in Stockholm, Sweden, originally using the moniker Treblinka and performing no nonsense black metal. After recording some demos, the band recorded their first full length album, "Sumerian Cry" in October 1989, though not long after they finished the record, guitarist Stefan Lagergren and drummer Anders Holmberg quit, leaving vocalist/guitarist Johan Edlund and bass player Jörgen Thullberg as the only remaining members. The two decided to change the name of the band to Tiamat, taking the name from the Mesopotamian goddess of the ocean before "Sumerian Cry" was released, giving them time to change the moniker for the albums release and for their appearance on a split with Unleashed, Asphyx, Grave and Loudblast.

After recruiting new guitarist Thomas Petersson and drummer Niklas Ekstrand, the band's music began to change gradually, owing to Edlund being increasingly influenced by bands such as Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate and Candlemass, which led to a more doom metal affair on their sophomore album, "The Astral Sleep." The record was received very well by fans of both the band and the emerging death/doom metal genre which had at that point been recently spearheaded by the likes of Anathema and My Dying Bride. It also marked the beginning of a lengthy relationship with Polish producer Waldemar Sorychta, who was previously a member of Despair and would go on to join Dave Lombardo's Grip Inc. project.

Though attention had begun to be paid to Tiamat for these well received releases, it was one their next album, "Clouds" that they started to become more like the Tiamat we know today. For the first time, the band utilised clean vocals and amped up the Gothic rock elements that fleetingly appeared on "The Astral Sleep," as well as bringing in keyboardist Kenneth Roos and new bassist John Hagel. Reviews for the album were extremely positive for the most part, with a number of fans claiming it to be their best work to date, though of course, that kind of thing will almost never be unanimous.

Despite the praise "Clouds" received, Edlund was not happy with the result and following the release of the EP, "The Sleeping Beauty (Live in Israel,)" he fired all of the band members except for John Hagel. In their place came Lars Sköld on drums and guitarist Magnus Sahlgren, initially as session musicians, though the former would quickly find himself listed as a permanent member, while Waldemar Sorychta also served as a session keyboard player. The result was "Wildhoney," perhaps the bands most acclaimed album to date, which saw the death metal influence significantly lessened and aspects of psychedelica and progressive rock were brought in, which no doubt was linked to the lyrics describing LSD.

The success of "Wildhoney" led to some memorable appearances at such festivals as Wacken Open Air in Germany and Dynamo Open Air in the Netherlands. Following these performances however, Tiamat would be shaken up again when Edlund relocated to Germany and declared himself to be the only permanent member of the group, before returning to the studio with Lars Sköld to record the next album, where they were joined by guitarist Thomas Petersson and bassist Anders Iwers. The new record, "A Deeper Kind of Slumber" was even more Gothic than previous albums and even brought in elements of jazz fusion and Middle Eastern music, which appeared to be a gamble worth taking, as once more, the group received some great reviews and the album reached as high as 39 on the Swedish album chart.

Two years later, the band returned with another album, "Skeleton Skeletron," which was more or less purely Gothic metal with some industrial ingredients thrown in, shedding much of the experimentation from the previous three albums. This would continue on their next album, "Judas Christ," which like its predecessor, received a mixed response from fans and critics alike, with some complaining that the albums were too lightweight and boring. Both albums attempted to create an eerie atmosphere however, which was still present when they recorded and released "Prey," which garnered some slightly better reviews and whose opener, "Cain" was featured in the video game, "Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines."

Following the release of a DVD entitled, "The Church of Tiamat," and the compilation album, "Commandments," the band severed their ties with Century Media, whom they had been signed to since "The Astral Sleep" and joined the Nuclear Blast roster. Their first album for the company was 2008's, "Amanethes," which was hailed as a return to form for Tiamat, owing mostly to the re-introduction of extreme metal music into their sound, which was still predominantly Gothic. That same year, Century Media released a box set featuring all the releases the group had recorded for the label under the title, "The Ark of the Covenant: The Century Media Years."

It would be four years before another Tiamat album would surface, as in 2012, the band released their tenth full length, "The Scarred People," which as a whole was received even better than "Amanethes" for it's variation and intelligent songwriting. Since then, the band has once again focused more on live appearances but have recently been posting photographs online with captions such as "New songs in the making." Wherever their musical path takes them, Tiamat can be assured of their place as one of Sweden's most eclectic metal groups with a catalogue as dark as any "goff's" heart.

Tiamat - "The Malicious Paradise"

Tiamat - "Lady Temptress"

Tiamat - "The Sleeping Beauty"

Tiamat - "Gaia"

Tiamat - "Cold Seed"

Tiamat - "Brighter Than the Sun"

Tiamat - "Vote For Love"

Tiamat - "The Scarred People"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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1 Comment on "Sunday Old School: Tiamat"

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Anonymous Reader
1. Mann Bhatia writes:

The most unpredictable and versatile band the world will ever see. They need to be more famous.

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