tiamat - amanethesIn spite of their Black Metal origins, Tiamat aren’t particularly heavy and even the “Metal” tag has become peripheral with a lot of their material. Yet the band still rocks hard at times and have expressed their myriad influences with a high degree of synergy over the years. If you’re looking for that chugga-chugga-bark-bark sound Tiamat won’t be your thing. Diverse, atmospheric, emotive (without being “emo”), deep and dark, frontman Johan Edlund has taken on the roles of spiritual leader and artistic director guiding the act through a variety of musical styles, as well as a variety of lineups.

With Amanethes, their ninth full length album, Tiamat seems to offer a kind of summary regarding everything they’ve done up until this time. The result is a ho-hum album that drags on a bit too long and wears its influences a little too overtly on its sleeves.

“Equinox Of The Gods” references their early, heavier output with a knowing wink and sly smile, featuring quick riffing and percussion that comes perilously close to blast beat territory. “Until The Hellhounds Sleep Again” celebrates their traditional Goth rock leanings with a vocal performance reminiscent of The Sisters Of Mercy’s Andrew Eldritch. “Meliae” brings to mind late-era Pink Floyd, after Floyd had become more a David Gilmour solo project featuring blues-inspired, atmospheric Pop rock. Album closer “Amanes” begins as straight Doom delivering the oft-asked lyric “Why have you forsaken me?” with a dour, straight face then works into a mid-section which calls to mind good Floyd from the Wish You were Here and Animals era. The diversity can be considered impressive yet the album lacks a singular voice, a unifying cohesion and, as such, comes across as suffering from a kind of musical split-personality disorder.

The fact that this band still has a considerable amount of loyal fans is a testament to their consistent display of talent, unpredictable nature and devil-may-care attitude regarding the merging of disparate musical styles. Yet while previous releases have seemed more of a cohesive effort accentuating the diversity of Tiamat’s approach Amanathes sounds more like a collection of musings on the works of those that have inspired them over the years. As an original band Tiamat no longer seem to have their own sound but are instead borrowing the sounds of their influences, presenting a disjointed and erratic work that seems overlong and a little too reminiscent of other artists’ albums.

There are some wonderfully sublime melodies that will haunt you the way this band’s classic material did. “Lucienne,” “Misantropolis,” and “Via Delorosa” all have hooks that will sink into your subconscious and creep up on you long after the music falls silent. Amanathes isn’t a bad album after all but it will test your patience, particularly since those who want something heavy will find it too Goth/emotive and those looking for something with depth and atmosphere will disparage the heavier moments. This is a middle-of-the-road album for an act that should by now be well beyond wearing its influences on its sleeves, instead projecting a sound and style uniquely its own. Ultimately the listener is left feeling like they just endured a really good cover band instead of enjoying a legendary, genre-defying original.


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(two and a half out of five horns)

[Tiamat on MySpace]

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