Released: 2001, Independent
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Ah, melodic Swedish death metal with female vocals. Time to pour a glass of red wine, settle down in my comfortable couch, and page through a metal magazine or some warm, fuzzy history book vividly detailing wars, battles, revolutions and other random events causing the grotesque deaths of millions. While this sadly-untitled demo (let’s just call it PROMO 2001, which is what appears on the jacket of this little disc) is full of brutality as well as beauty, overall I found it relaxing, and quite enjoyable.
Before the term “female vocals” has you envisioning another Nightwish-themed band, you should know that although the vox are soaring and majestic, the music behind them is heavy, gritty, fast, and punishing. The promo material for Amaran warns me that this was recorded entirely in a home studio, so the stuff sounds kind of fuzzy, but overall I thought the less-than-clear production added an interesting dimension to the thick but melodic riffs that roared forth from my speakers. “Rusty Warhorse,” the second track of four here, is a stand-out. I hear hints of In Flames here, and definitely there’s plenty of evidence these folks are Swedish (though hailing from Stockholm, not Gothenburg). I didn’t like the electronic rhythms on “Imperfect,” but the rest of the song was quite good. The vocals of Johanna DePierre are anguished when appropriate, beautiful when called for, and always strong. I liked the guitar work of Ronnie Blacklund and Karl Kainulainen and it is consistently catchy and heavy on all the tracks. The songwriting is also above average. Clearly a lot of thought went into putting this promo together. I find the thought, planning and strategy that goes into a metal song is often more important than what you hear on the speakers (because it dictates what comes out), and certainly from that standpoint Amaran have a leg up on many other new bands.
I wish Ms. DePierre’s vocals were a little more violent at times. The point is obviously to fuse the beautiful and the harsh, but she could roll with the flow a little better. I also wish Amaran had a more creative name, and it sure would have been nice to see some great artwork covering this disc! But these are all fairly minor criticisms. I enjoyed Amaran’s work, and if you’re a fan either of female-fronted metal or variations on the Swedish sound, you probably will too.
Contact the band on the net at http://www.amaran.net
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.