"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Tiamat - "Amanethes" (CD)

Tiamat - "Amanethes" CD cover image

"Amanethes" track listing:

1. The Temple of the Crescent Moon (5:33)
2. Equinox of the Gods (4:35)
3. Until the Hellhounds Sleep Again (4:07)
4. Will They Come? (5:13)
5. Lucienne (4:41)
6. Summertime is Gone (3:53)
7. Katarraktis Apo Aima (2:43)
8. Raining Dead Angels (4:18)
9. Misantropolis (4:13)
10. Amanitis (3:21)
11. Meliae (6:11)
12. Via Dolorosa (4:06)
13. Circles (3:48)
14. Amanes (5:29)

Reviewed by on June 4, 2008

"They have blended the heavier feel of their earliest death metal albums into the ambient and experimental Pink Floyd vibe of their middle years with a good smattering of their newer rock oriented sound."

The opening lyrics for "Amanethes" carry a double meaning, one of which is a message directly to the fans that "It's been a long time but we're here again, it's been five long years of thunder, lightning, and rain." Those five years have seen a unique transformation for Tiamat. They have blended the heavier feel of their earliest death metal albums into the ambient and experimental Pink Floyd vibe of their middle years with a good smattering of their newer rock oriented sound. The long time between albums also served as a gestation period for front man Johan Edlund’s vocals, which have emerged from the cocoon of five years silence a harsh and guttural thing that definitely isn’t growling, but neither is it precisely clean singing. There are also intermittent distortions of the vocals, which occasionally lend an electronic quality to Edlund’s naturally melodic voice.

"Amanathes" isn’t quite a concept album, but it does carry an overall theme through each song, with constant references to angels, fire, and the sun. There is a duality present in the lyrics that makes similar lyrics have a wildly different connotation depending on how they are used. The song "Summertime is Gone" gives the somber feeling of watching the day’s last light inch below the horizon without a companion to share the view when Edlund sings longingly that he wishes he could take an unnamed person into the sky so they can drown in the sun. The sun shifts from a rapturous abstract idea to a place of torment and punishment in the song "Amanes," with lyrics that express a desire to set the sky aflame and watch as angels plunge into the sun. The dual meanings continue with fire, which represents passion and spirituality in one moment and then a violent, painful cleansing of the unworthy in another.

Like most of Tiamat’s previous albums, "Amanathes" is incredibly blasphemous and anti-religious with lyrics like "We went to Gethsemane to kill your self-pitying Nazarene" and song titles like "Raining Dead Angels." It's an insidious evil that sneaks up on the listener, as there are no outright growls and no screams from hell. It’s not a dizzying thrash attack like Slayer’s "Reign in Blood" or a straight up death metal assault like Morbid Angel's "Altars of Madness." The most evil lyrics are delivered with the least amount of fanfare and force, and accompany comparatively soothing music. Edlund isn’t afraid to move past being just religiously offensive into offering up his own spiritual beliefs, pronouncing direct entreaties to Lucifer and performing songs that are religious invocations to Satan. "Amanethes" will frequently send shivers of delight up the spines of those who lean more towards the left hand path, but people who would be offended by lyrics that openly disdain Christianity should give the album a wide berth.

Tiamat has mastered changing mood between songs without losing focus or causing a few tracks to be weaker than others. Some songs put guitar acrobatics and a heavy atmosphere at the forefront, while others go for a chilling ambience, such as "Equinox of the Gods," which features a disturbingly creepy segment with a child singing about angels crying as they die. Without skipping a beat the album can then switch into acoustic bittersweet sadness or into catchy songs with repeating choruses and forceful, intermittent guitars riffs.

Highs: Amazing vocals that perfectly match the music, blasphemous and inspiring lyrics, and an amazing atmosphere.

Lows: There is absolutely nothing wrong with this album

Bottom line: Unquestionably Tiamat's best album

Rated 5.0 out of 5 skulls
5.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)