Pure dysphoric genius
Company: Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Raising Iron
For those who yearn for the days of "Wildhoney", and were semi-sated with their last release, "Prey", your wait is over. Tiamat's latest, "Amanathes", is pure dysphoric genius. Tiamat's vocalist and founding member, Johan Edlund, has taken his penchant for down-hearted, dispirited gloom to even higher, sublime, and ethereal planes with this latest work. His gritty baritone augments the atmosphere so perfectly here it's genuinely frightening. Songs here are so moribund and morose, they're sure to send chills up and down the cloaked spines of even the most black-hearted and hardened goth fans.
This terror strikes out with the perfect opener, "The Temple of the Crescent Moon", which is probably the heaviest and fastest track to be found, recalling mid-era Paradise Lost. A fairly brisk, upbeat track (*gasp*, lyrically speaking as well!?!) that belies the rest of the album. There are a handful of thoroughly heavy gothic metal tunes to be enjoyed, but a full half of this album resides in balladic territory, where the ebon depression truly shines. Melody after melody after melody reach into your heart and tear out any shred of hope or optimism you may be experiencing. "Meliae" is one of the most beautiful examples of despair ever laid to disc, and warrants a press of the repeat button on your player. The keyboard melody, along with the lyrical one, is so perfectly processed and pronounced, and the female backing vocals (found elsewhere as well) add haunting texture to the refrain. The guitar solo on the outro is sensationally spectral. And the affair is found throughout the entire album - exotic, haunting, eldritch, and eerie passages casting one down into the deepest valleys of the forlorn.
The production is top-notch and spacious, allowing the various strains to fill all corners of the recording, sucking the listener into the vortex of painful despair where Tiamat have laid their cornerstone. Hard to believe this clocks in at about 67 minutes (including the stellar US bonus track), for there's no filler, no wasted electronic excursions into experimental realms of noise, just depressing song after depressing song. This truly has to be Tiamat's greatest moment in their career, as they've never been more focused in their attempt to create great songs that cut to the core of despondency.
Hence, if you've been too happy lately listening to your Nightwish, Freedom Call, Edguy or Dragonforce, then stop by Tiamat's throne and temper that enthusiasm with a drink from their bleak chalice. Or, if you dwell in these bitter halls as is your wont, do not hesitate to inject this virulent serum into your veins. Finally, if you think Type O Negative or HIM are the definition of dark, gothic rock/metal--wake up! "Amanathes" will take you to places far more dour, disconsolate, and desperate than imagined.