Review Summary: Tiamat continue their generic gothic rock trend, but this time decide to rehash the generic doom of their initial few releases as well.
I had given up on Tiamat ever releasing another good album a long time ago, so it was only by chance that I stumbled upon a news article where the band stated that they were going to return to their roots on this album. After reading the news, I assumed that they would return to the sounds of Wildhoney
and A Deeper Kind of Slumber
since those are the two albums that garner all the praise, but you know what happens to those that assume. Instead they have mixed all the boring generic elements of their current gothic rock albums with the standard riffs and horribly growled vocals of their first few doom/death albums.
The two obvious throwbacks to their doom roots are found in the heavier riffs and growled vocals of some of the songs. The opening two songs are great examples of this as they feature the growled vocals and heavy riffs and combine them with sparse keyboards and the simple song structures of their current stuff. While some may think that the return of any heaviness is a good thing, those people would need to be reminded that Tiamat were never good at being heavy and they still aren’t now. The riffs are still boring, predictable down-tuned affairs, and the growled vocals are still horrible due to his attempt at pulling off a sing/growl hybrid technique. In fact, the growled vocals ruin any chance a song may have of being good such on the musically decent “Raining Dead Angels” which incorporates some industrial influence into the riffs and beats, and a clear techno influence in the keyboards.
The savior of this album could have been the fact that on some songs he still incorporates singing, but his singing voice is worse then ever before. The problem with the songs that he sings on is that he is often singing much lower then he is capable of which makes him frequently sound out of key. Tracks such as “Until the Hellhounds Sleep Again” or “Misantropolis” define this flaw perfectly. The out of key vocals are only made worse by the fact that the songs he sings on are generally slow and plodding and rely on redundant gothic rock guitar riffs and minimal keyboard accompaniment to get them by. Really, that is the problem with all the music on this album regardless of what era of their past they draw from; the music is redundant, generic, and boring and is only made worse by weak vocal performances.
Amanethes has a few dim positives such as the previously mentioned industrial influences of “Raining Dead Angels” or the dead-on Pink Floyd
impression of “Meliae” which actually has a great vocal performance courtesy of him trying to emulate David Gilmour and actually doing a good job of it. Unfortunately, these relatively good additions are lost in a sea of mediocrity in which Tiamat have proven to me once and for all that the unique talent exhibited on Wildhoney
and A Deeper Kind of Slumber
was a fluke and that they are only ever going to be a third-rate doom band or a third-rate gothic band… or in this case, a combination of both.