Amiensus – All Paths Lead to Death (Apathia Records)Wednesday, 3rd May 2017
It’s sometimes said that the bands that you often appreciate the most are the ones who are willing to continue to redefine their sound or tweak their formula. Never settling into the ‘same old song and dance routine’ with their music but look instead for ways to continue the progression of their sound. Amiensus’ second full-length Ascension saw the band hit a ceiling with what they could do with their approach (they also snagged a rare 10/10 for it). So the band broke through the ceiling in attempt to gain a fresh perspective and vantage point.
The cover art makes a statement that this isn’t going to be entirely like the Amiensus of old. A dark and bleak picture defines the contents within. Opener “Gehenna” serves to bridge the gap between the two releases, as the band drops some of their folk-ier elements in favor of bitter cold and brutal arrangements. But “Gehenna” still makes use of vocalist James Benson’s cleans (which are spare elsewhere) to craft an amalgamation of eerie melodies with frantic and oppressive speed. “Mouth of the Abyss” utters a sinister tone from the beginning, and one that’s difficult to forget. There’s a desperation in this song that contrasts well with what the band has done previously, and it truly ups the ante on the sheer heaviness factor. It’s scathing, but yet, it still retains the band’s ear for melody. Some Dissection seems to have been absorbed as an influence, and “Prophecy” contains some staggering melodies and atmosphere despite the abrasive tone. In fact, despite the lack of more folk-inspired elements, the melodies feel stronger at times, as if to compensate for the shift. “The River” leans back more towards “Gehenna” in tone, and its triumphant sounding melodies are a near-constant feature.
All the growth, but none of the expected pains in Amiensus’ latest EP. Great to see that they can expand upon their sound and add new dimensions without abandoning their core aesthetic. They’ve set themselves up to reach further heights, and now with a proper label-backing, perhaps they’ll have the opportunity to really spread like wildfire.