A few weeks back, I received a cube-shaped item from Madam X. After spending the requisite time aligning the mirrors in my chamber of decoding, the sun’s light finally shone upon said box which opened to reveal a promo and the following message: “Steel thought you might enjoy this one.” With enormous shame do I remember the arrogance and ungratefulness I exhibited upon that day when I dispatched the coif-clad courier back to AMG HQ with said promo and some form of “Thanks, but I’m good.” While I thought I had moved on and gone about my business, over the following days an almost imperceptible sound began to grow into a still, small voice and finally erupted into a siren’s wail, drawing me to the edge of the promo bin upon my hands and knees. With all of my might, I screamed my repentance towards the sky — “I must have the Amulet!”
The Inevitable War is the sophomore album from London, England act Amulet. After releasing a debut full-length on Century Media, the band is back five years, three new band members, and one label later to carry out a trve campaign against heaven and hell alike by delivering the goods with a set of olde school battle hymns and numbers of the beast. The promo materials state that the band hopes that The Inevitable War will be considered “in the same ballpark as Iron Maiden, Manowar, Judas Priest and 80s Black Sabbath.” I couldn’t agree more, so I shamelessly copied and pasted that statement like the lazy journalist that I am. It’s almost uncanny how well Amulet channels these influences into their tales of warfare and the occult, and a big part of their success are the vocal talents of new singer Federico Mazza. He effortlessly chameleons all of the frontmen of the aforementioned acts, while simultaneously blending them into a singular voice that reminds me quite a bit of early Joey Belladonna.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly which legendary band exerts the most influence here. Priest is embodied in the synth and solo laden “Burning Hammer,” the sinister “Gateway to Hell,” and the rapid fire proto-speed of “Shockwave.” Dio-Sabbath rears its mighty head on “The Satanist” and the slow-then-fast gallop of “Poison Chalice.” “Siege Machine” would fit perfectly on Piece of Mind, and epic Maiden meets epic Manowar on both “Call of the Siren” and the long closer “Roundhead.” The latter is fantastic but may draw the ire of the trve as it steers dangerously close to aping its source material by sounding like a Bruce Dickinson sung version of the title track from Battle Hymns. That’s about the only criticism that comes to mind when listening to The Inevitable War: all of this has been done before by bands that you know and love, but the authenticity and skill with which it’s constructed make this a fresh and enjoyable trip down memory lane.
Founding guitar duo Marek “Heathen” Steven and Nippy Blackford elevate Amulet to a tier above most modern traditional metal bands. Their familiarity with the band’s influences allow them to weave in and out of styles with ease, keeping the album from seeming too derivative. Listen to the classical instrumental “La Noche de las Graviotas” or the solos on “Burning Hammer” or “Roundhead” to hear their skill in action. Bassist Sam Machertich is worth mentioning as his Geezer-meets-Harris performance and his synth contributions add a ton of density to the record. Perfectly mixed by Nippy’s older brother Tom Blackford, The Inevitable War has a phenomenal production that makes it sound as if this were recorded in the early 80s. It’s difficult to pick favorites from these nine unique tracks, but “The Satanist,” “Burning Hammer,” “Call of the Siren,” and “Roundhead” are all killers.
Like the prophet Jonah, I have learned the futility of running from the will of the Godz. My disturbing lack of faith nearly led to me missing out on this gem of nostalgic sounds. Never again will I question a gift sent from Madam X and Steel Druhm, even if such blind faith will undoubtedly lead to my eventual annihilation.1 Fans of the dropped names or the recent output from Satan or Visigoth should immediately equip themselves with chains and leather and join The Inevitable War.