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Akiavel – Væ Victis Review

Akiavel – Væ Victis Review

If you’re about my age, you probably remember being a teenager and being rather surprised by Arch Enemy’s “Nemesis” video. For those unfamiliar, a speedy melo-death riff kicks the song off and we see a girl dressed like a Hot Topic version of Britney Spears in the “Oops, I Did it Again” video. She lets out a scream, and everyone watching goes “whoa, I can’t believe a girl can make those sounds!” The novelty wore off quickly despite my efforts to like the band because I liked Michael Amott’s work in Carcass. The Angela Gossow version Arch Enemy was inoffensively boring, and the band has since deteriorated into being offensively boring in the current Alissa White-Gluz iteration. The takeaway here is that Arch Enemy at their most popular is bland and uninspiring, and I’m lost as to who would take musical inspiration from that sound. Enter French death metal band Akiavel.” Archetypes.

Amaranthe – The Nexus Review

Amaranthe – The Nexus Review

As a young boy I learned a really important lesson at the hands of one of my favorite bands, Europe. Sure, you laugh, but I was and it was the ’80s, so I was well within my rights to listen to Europe. In 1984, Sweden’s very own, very popular foray into glam rock released a record called Wings of Tomorrow. The album cover was simple. An armored bird of prey, in profile against a red planet cradled in a vast blanket of stars, ready to attack an unseen foe. Five-year-old me was in awe. My unconstrained imagination transported me into space with this mighty, ironclad hawk, to fight futuristic wars. This set the stage for a magical listening experience and the record is still one of my favorites. When I finally got around to The Final Countdown something important had changed: the cover was five poofy haired dudes in space. No suspension of disbelief, no imagination, just Swedish glam rockers in space. And the record? Well, it had one great song… and in retrospect a lot of stinkers. At that moment, an important seed of distrust of bands with their own pictures on the cover of a record was instilled in me. If a band isn’t creative enough to come up with a cool record cover, that band probably isn’t creative enough to write really good music.

Amaranthe – Amaranthe Review

Amaranthe – Amaranthe Review

Amaranthe has three vocalists. Just let that sink in for a while. From what I can tell, not one of those vocalists plays an instrument. Instead, they found three “attractive” people to do vocals for them. The first is a woman, who sounds like a pop singer (think E Type) and who I guarantee you cannot name a Slayer record. The second is a screamy dude. He’s got a beard (’cause he’s tough and angsty, you see) and he screams, but not too much (he must be very, very, very bored on stage). And then there’s the ‘power metal’ vocalist (Berg from Dream Evil) who’s just as over-produced as the chick vocalist and is there to get 14 year old girls all silly over his perfectly groomed dreadlocks. Behind them are several soulless session musicians (from Mercenary, Dragonland and Engel). Though, frankly, this is a band that is functionally made of session musicians, since integrity seems to be lacking.