Amoral – Reptile Ride
|By Rahul Chacko|
|Friday, 05 October 2007|
|A couple of months ago, a friend asked me, “Why do you like music so much?” Now, with the amount of time I invest in listening to music, you’d think that I had the answer to that loaded in the chamber, but I ended up spouting some stuff about firing synapses and generating visual imagery without being constrained by an actual vision. Wuss. Even “because Thai food gives me the runs!” is a better answer than that. But since I take it for granted that I love doing it, I guess I never bother probing the deeper mystery of why. Just to clarify – it’s listening to music that I love, not having the runs. And Thai food is pretty great, if you can get someone else to foot the bill.
Why’d I bore you with all this? Well, I’m a bit of a sadist on occasion. Anyway switching tracks all the way across the 8-lane, this album was recommended to me some time back, and as usual, I took my time to get around to listening to it. Mistake. It deserved much better. For those not in the know, Amoral are a bunch of skilled Finns who combine all sorts of heavy music to make what you could call melodicdeathpowerthrash metal, if you don’t mind sounding like an ass. If you’re in need of a quick description, think fast, aggressive, and just a bit mercurial, while maintaining drop-dead precision all the while.
For this, their third outing, they’ve gone for a slightly different approach, their melodic sensibilities pushing to the forefront a lot more often than usual. I don’t mean clean vocals, though they do have those buried in the background now and then. It’s more in places on most of the songs where space opens up, letting a clear guitar line lock in with power chord slams instead of nonstop crazy riffage. And in stark contrast, a lot of times the solos are working over frantic riffs fighting for as much attention – check out ‘Nervasion’ and ‘Few and Far Between’ for evidence. It’s clear that they’re trying some things out, best evident in ‘Mute’, the guitars booting you straight back into the 80s a lot of the time with their great cheesy harmonies. It’s not a total success, since the hoarse vocals fit in these segments as comfortably as a cow in a beartrap. Or a bear, for that matter. Still, it’s interesting listening. And there’s the long instrumental ‘Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Fun’, providing plenty of spacey portions that occasionally brings to mind synth-era Rush. I’m telling you.
However, when all cylinders are firing, they take off like a cat with its ass on fire. The riffs are insane – trying to follow most of them is like trying to hang on to this charging bull – it just throws you through loop after loop, and you love it. Except the inevitable trampling and goring, that’s got to suck. And the solos are both seriously chop-heavy and intelligently slotted at the same time – very little mindless shredding to be found here. It may sound phony, but trust me, it works. ‘Snake Skin Saddle’ even has a cycling guitar lick that sounds enough like a fiddle to lend the whole thing a demented hillbilly air.
This direction may incur the wrath of some old-time fans, but if you like guitar wizardry in your metal, and don’t mind it spanning all the way across from catchy to extreme, this here is definitely something you may want to blare at full volume. Listening to this reminds of me of one of the reasons I like music so much – getting that excited feeling when you listen to something you’re not entirely familiar with yet, but are confident that you’re going to spin a lot more times till you are.
Oh, the cover definitely bears mention as well. I imagine the brainstorming process went something like this:
“Man, what kind of cover fits a name like ‘Reptile Ride’?”
Niko Kalliojärvi – vocals
Year of release: 2007