posted on 8/2007 By:
The guitar solo is a beautiful thing. As a child, it was the serpent that drew me to hard rock and heavy metal in the first place. In this age of jaded hearts, however, the solo has become so stock and predictable that when one manages to slither through the fence and hit home, it is merely rewarded with a smile and a monosyllabic remark. Sadly, there are few bands capable of resurrecting that youthful, nostalgic sense of discovery though their lead work, and even fewer that can get those little hairs on the back of your neck to stand at attention. With their third album, Reptile Ride, Amoral has joined these hallowed ranks, brimming with exuberance and armed to the teeth.
A terse blend of technical devastation and DT-schooled melodic death, Reptile Ride continues in the same vein as their sophomore outing, 2005’s Decrowning, but is a tenfold improvement in every facet. That little record, while enjoyable, suffered from an affliction of similitude. It also carried the unfortunate burden placed on it by the first song, “Showdown”, which friggin’ annihilated the remainder of the album. Reptile Ride, thankfully, is filled with far more fun-filled speedballs and fireworks than could ever be expected from this crew, and is tailor made for unscrewing some vertebrae and torquing some skulls.
What sets this apart from the faceless glump of tech-death LPs is the boundless vibrancy that bubbles from these songs; while they ply their craft seriously, it’s pretty damn obvious that these Finns are having the time of their lives. The slicing interplay between guitarists Silver Ots and Ben Varon is bubbling with molten metal zeal from opening note ‘til close. Their freewheeling, riff-loaded machinegunnery shines brightest on the EVH-does-DM shit-grinner “Mute”, especially when they get down to the shred at the three minute mark. An argument could be made for the jet-engine blowback of “Hang ‘Em High” as well, which plays like a textbook on how to splice a nuclear powered rhythm guitar under a blindingly melodic solo. Hugging the road with every swerve, Reptile Ride cruises along with a breeziness that was missing from Decrowning, which was weighted down with earnestness. This album sees the band injected with a near-cockiness which not only bolsters their overall strength, but makes this an absolute fucking blast to listen to. Life is just bursting from each track, down to each tempo-change and each dynamic shift. Amoral have done exactly what a young metal band strives to do with their third album, in that they’ve grown exponentially not only from a songwriting standpoint, but have completely jelled as a unit. This Ride is nearly flawless.
Nearly. Vocalist Niko Kalliojärvi’s vocal style, an even-flowing propulsory rasp, does little to enhance, and simply holds steady. To his credit, the man has a knack for picking fluid vocal lines, and whatever limitations he harbors are veiled by some quality gang vocals (of the harsh variety, mind you; this isn’t The Art of Partying). In addition, the über-sexy production job slips his percussive roar down a notch in the mix, keeping this an axe-driven machine, as displayed in “D-Drop Bop”. One of the coolest cuts, (despite sounding like it was lifted straight from Anata’s Under A Stone With No Inscription) this burst of pedal-stomping adrenaline would be a microcosm for everything that is righteous about modern thrashing death metal…if the follow-up instrumental “Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Fun” hadn’t snuck in through the back door and stolen the title for itself.
To bottom line this son-of-a-bitch, I haven’t played this much bedroom air-guitar since that week I blasted “Go Into The Water” non-stop. And judging from some of these song titles, as well as the intentionally ridiculous cover art, it’s a safe bet that Amoral had just as much fun building this tower of headbanging bliss as I had rocking out to it in my underwear. So plant your foot on your monitor/coffee table, close your eyes, and wash yourself in ripping leads like it’s 1999 and this is Colony, only with way more riffs and way less Anders Fridén.
One of the year’s most satisfying albums...and a swift, European kick in the ass.
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