Amanethes by Tiamat
Release date : April 2008
Reviewed by Mark Fisher
In late June 2007, it was revealed that Tiamat had inked a record contract with Nuclear Blast Records. By late August, the group had begun recording a ninth studio album. When early September arrived, drums and bass contributions had been laid down, and photographs taken during studio sessions materialized. The album was mainly cut at The Mansion in Thessaloniki, Greece, but additional recording occurred at Studio Mega in Sweden, and Cue in Greece. Production, meanwhile, was helmed by frontman Johan Hedlund. Tentatively slated for an early 2008 release, the album's title was revealed to be Amanethes. Eventually, its issue date was narrowed down to April.
In January 2008, Siggi Bemm mixed and mastered Amanethes at Woodhouse Studios in Germany. The following month, its album track listing was disclosed. Later that February, the full length's Hedlund designed artwork was unveiled.
The lines “It’s been a long time but we are here again / It’s been five long years of thunder, lightning, and rain/It’s so cold, so hard, without you but tonight we’re coming through…” inaugurate opening cut “The Temple of the Crescent Moon”, a track which reintroduces the cult of Tiamat to the globe following a lengthy absence. In the very tradition of “Vote For Love” (from 2002's Judas Christ), the anthemic number almost begs the listener to crank the volume up towards eleven, and scream along, or even “Goth along” - whichever happens to be your individual preference.
Initial tracks “Equinox of the Gods” and “Until the Hellhounds Sleep Again” murder the listener's eardrums, Tiamat immediately dismissing any notions that the group may have softened during their hiatus. The former is the heavier of the duo, and will likely please countless admirers of the outfit's earlier material. The latter, meanwhile, is slow and clunky. Deep with intent, and dark to the core, “Until the Hellhounds Sleep Again” recalls Tiamat's more recent material. Collectively, these two respective tracks form Amanethes' core identity, and prove yet again what diehard fanatics already knew - musically speaking, Tiamat is very much a two sided coin.
Upon Amanethes, vocals prove to be the greatest difference. Johan Edlund's vocals aren't different as such, but have never been so varied upon past Tiamat full lengths. “Raining Dead Angels” resurrects the younger, growlier days, whilst tracks such as “The Temple of the Crescent Moon” and “Lucienne” seem more familiar, akin to stylings prevalent upon Judas Christ and 2003's Prey. Having said that, Amanethes' latter half fully depends upon a laid back, natural sound both musically and vocally. “Via Dolorosa” and “Amanes”, as well as the heavier “Katarraktis Apo Aima”, are extremely straightforward vocally, and surprisingly good. In its final moments, “Amanes” takes Amanethes one step further, recalling some of the Folk Alternative acts currently bubbling under (such as The Pit That Became a Tower and What Laura Says). Distinctly darker, “Amanes” is nonetheless certainly more interesting and appealing to audiences not amongst Metal and Goth circles. Throughout Amanethes, fresh and aging sounds are not only brought together, but venture towards several new areas in addition.
It wouldn't be difficult to understand why some Tiamat fanatics might dislike Amanethes, or even consider the album to be more singles driven than much of the group's past material. Upon their own, the tracks stand well, and that isn't typical of a Tiamat record. Of course, genuine Tiamat fanatics have more interest in the group's current activities rather than the group's past activities, and those fanatics will be delighted with Amanethes since it strongly acknowledges the past, yet sets its sights upon the present. The full length arguably sheds light upon the future as well, but this may or may not come to fruition given the fact that Tiamat is versatile, and insistent upon travelling its own path.