Review Summary: Amarna Reign takes all the things that make metalcore great and refines them into a truly ferocious album.
Amarna Reign is a fairly underground metalcore group, but their music is just as good as any popular hardcore act. Atonement, their only album as of the time this review was posted, is undoubtedly among the better metalcore albums I've ever heard. The group does not so much bring much new material to the table as take elements of other groups and refine them. While there are other bands making similar music, Atonement is extremely well-executed. One of the few faults I found was the occasional overuse of studio effects, but never to the point that it ruined the album. From the first track to the last, the ferocity of the music never falters. Technical drum fills, blistering riffs, pounding breakdowns and gut-wrenching roaring vocals all work in harmony to create some of the best metalcore I've heard.
Track 1: Deceiver
This song gets the album off to a great start. A harmonic minor 8th-note lead sequence played over an intense "chuggita chug chug-a" riff in the intro sets a brutal pace for the rest of the song to keep up with. After a short verse and a brief moment of near-silence the harsh screaming vocal comes back in with a cry of "I'll rip the teeth from the beast," a great example of what can only be described as completely badass lyrics displayed throughout the album. Soon afterward is a great (if not somewhat predictable) chorus complete with clean vocals. The generic verse-chorus pattern continues, with a breakdown or two mixed in. The song finishes off with the same killer harmonic minor riff it started off with, putting an end to what is probably the best track on the album.
Track 2: The Fall
While this song is nearly as good as the first track, there is not nearly as much to say about it. There are killer riffs, a catchy chorus, intense breakdowns and a great level of energy. Unfortunately, the first track was a hard act to follow, and The Fall seemed somewhat sedate in comparison. Still a good track, just not quite as good as the song before it.
Track 3: Into The Sky
Another great song, but once again overshadowed by the colossus at the beginning of the album. Basically the same story as the second track, however this is somewhat more energetic.
Track 4: Letting Go
Yet another terrific track, at about the same level as Deciever. Featuring all the elements that made the preceding songs great, the intro also incorporates an almost haunting clean guitar part, soon to be joined by a tremendous distorted riff. Shortly afterward the song falls into a familiar verse-chorus-breakdown format. However listening to the track I could almost feel the energy from the music nearly propelling me into a full-force headbang. Certainly one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Track 5: For Too Long
This one retained all the good features of previous songs, but overall just seemed as if it lacked some of the energy. Perhaps my ears have just become accustomed to the sonic assault. Still a furious track, better than most songs by other metalcore bands, but just not quite on par with the rest.
Track 6: The Fight (Isn't Over)
This track was really ear-catching. Sounds quite like some of the other songs, but with one major difference. It seemed a bit slower, but that only served to enhance the ominous brutality. Throughout the track there is a deep sense of foreboding, as if the band was just barely containing some ancient, primal rage. It gave a sense of being in the eye of the storm, the moment of relative calm before a sheer wall of force hits. Overall, a terrific track.
Track 7: The Ascent
After the last track, I was expecting a brutal, furious thrashing. Unfortunately this sonic beatdown never came. It reamained almost sedate, even after the clean guitar intro ended, the level of ferocity displayed on previous tracks just wasn't there. Personally, I think it should have been used as the opening track, and Deceiver should have been the last. But that's just because of my impression from The Fight (Isn't Over) and resulting expectations. It is a great song, just not as intense as the preeceding track semed to require.
After hearing the album for the first time, I was thoroughly amazed. There were a few flaws, such as the lack of innovation, sometimes-formulaic song structure, reliance on studio tricks and disappointing final track. However, the redeeming qualities far outweigh the negatives. I was caught off-guard by the music, expecting another generic -core album. This record just took every good part of modern metalcore and refined it into a shining nugget of under-rated gold. Overall, it is a truly monumental album in the world of underground metalcore that any fan of the genre should listen to.