Amoth is a young band from Finland flying pretty far under the average reader’s metal detector. I’d certainly never heard of them or their 2011 debut Crossing Over and I wouldn’t have heard of their sophomore outing Revenge either had not AMG Himself told me I should spin the album. And an interesting album it is, too. Amoth is a talented group trafficking in a progressive style mixing elements of tech-thrash, power, goth and traditional metal, all patched and glued together with gum, tape and optimism. They remind me of a less deathy Into Eternity, but the number of other influences is practically limitless and over the course of Revenge, they stick a probing toe in nearly every genre puddle imaginable. This makes for an eventful but exhausting roller coaster ride of a listen and a mighty challenging review. With that in mind, bear with me as I endeavor to peel the onion that is Revenge.
Opener “Die Young” gives you a taste of Amoth‘s quirky style, wantonly leaping between ideas and styles and despite some off-kilter change ups and twists, it’s one of the most cohesive cuts and manages to be pretty catchy. It’s difficult to compare it to other bands but there are traces of Voivod sitting alongside Tarot and even Wrathchild America [Insert joke about old guy metal cred here – AMG]. “Shadow of the Beast” is the best song here with a doomy, somber bent that shifts and morphs into Iced Earth-esque power riffing and back again. The overall mood is foreboding, but the speed flair ups keep the listener on his/her toes. It winds out with a thrash segment reminiscent of old Deathrow which is pretty nifty. “Road to Ruin” is the most direct rocker and the rare track that avoids side missions down every available genre rabbit hole. The lengthy title track is an consistently up-tempo thrasher with a noodle factor of 12 but whenever the singer shouts “reWENGE” it’s unintentionally hilarious, as is the crazy polka segment that erupts without warning at 3:20.
Despite the considerable musical talent the band brings to the table, their “everything into the chili” style of writing shoots them in the foot on several occasions. “Tattered Wings” is something like emo-goth metal but it meanders all over the place and feels amateurish. “Till the End” sounds like stoner hippie rock before going wonky and approximating a merger of King Diamond and hair metal stadium rock with some Maiden riffs tossed in because Maiden! It kinda sorta works, but not totally. Not working at all is “Children of the Night,” a painfully awkward ballad merging country western ideas with Frank Sinatra era swing and something vaguely like grunge. It ends up sounding like Nirvana trying to execute a big band sound and it sinks more dramatically than the Titanic.
A recurring problem for the band is their transitions or lack thereof. Sometimes the leaps are too abrupt or chaotic and the need to pack infinite ideas into each song hurts when they dodge away from a good idea into a less compelling one. Amoth‘s scattershot approach also ensures most songs feel helter-skelter and unstable, which isn’t always a positive thing, even in Metalville. Another issue is song length. While “Shadow of the Beast” is good, it runs about 2 minutes too long and gets repetitive and the title track also needs trimming. On the plus side, the album sounds great with a nice depth to the mix which makes the bass and drums really pop.
Talent-wise, these cats are pretty impressive. Even on the compositionally-challenged songs you can hear their instrumental ability clear as day. Tomi Ihanamaki can definitely play his guitar and some of his solos are wild. Even when he adopts a more minimalist approach, his fret-work is interesting and often unusual. Likewise, Oskari Vijanen shows off some chops on the kit, effortlessly swinging between styles and adding all sorts of interesting fills. Their weak point is vocalist Tomi Kurtti. He isn’t terrible, but he’s certainly limited and when the band dives into more adventurous waters he gets exposed. He’s good enough on the faster tracks and brooding numbers like “Shadow of the Beast,” but his delivery on the quirky “Children of the Night” is painful (to be fair, I’m not sure anyone would sound good on that Kentucky fried turkey) and on “Tattered Wings” he sounds like he’s drifting in and out of tune.
Amoth is a band with talent and potential, but I’m not sure their oddball style will translate into success until they significantly refine their writing chops and perhaps pare back their lofty ambitions and proggier impulses. Revenge is an interesting but unsuccessful album, and that’s a shame because they get close to hitting home runs on several songs. File under: band to watch.