Ammonoid – Pierce the Veil (Self-Released)

Monday, 6th May 2024
Rating: 8 / 10

Originating as a recording project back in 2022, Ammonoid contains members from an international landscape. Guitarist Vinaya Saksena from the East Coast has previous experience in groups like Critical Mass and Briar Rose – while vocalist Emily Palen sang with French metal band Knightress. Gaining bassist Stephen LoVerme and drummer Randy Odierno the following year, they developed more material to unleash the following EP Pierce the Veil. Although many would consider this a single as a two-track product, these musicians traverse a wide array of doom, psychedelic, and progressive metal/rock styles, also choosing epic-oriented arrangements where the timeframes span eight-minutes.

The title track starts the recording off in alluring fashion – intertwining the reflective, calmer aspects of the band’s style with some killer doom riffs and energetic, progressive rhythm section work to keep the listeners surprised through each transition. Emily’s range encompasses everything from early psychedelic rock to classic rock and soaring metal magnificence – aspects of Grace Slick, Janis Joplin to Anneke van Giersbergen become prevalent when you take in specific verses or rising chorus elements. The exotic doom twist around the five-minute mark one of those hair tingling moments for her deeper quality in channeling the right eerie atmosphere that matches the musical movement on display. “Heart of a Bird” starts on a more progressive note before Emily’s calmer, angelic voice along with Vinaya’s comforting clean guitar parts stand tall, only to succumb to more jagged psychedelic metal terrain. When the band kicks the distortion into full gear, it’s doom nirvana, the vocal harmonies spreading a wealth of anguish that along with the heaviness should be a mood changer for all listeners to the good. Guest guitar work from Dan Costa and keyboard parts from Emma Newton flesh out the 8:08 arrangement, the diverse elements coming to a boil in the instrumental sections.

Add in a pro-social justice, anti-authoritarian lyrical stance, solid production work from the band and Emma Newton, as well as intriguing cover art from Joanna Barnum and it’s clear that Ammonoid possess a solid style to build upon this early in the game for Pierce the Veil. A hidden gem that could be mined into bigger things down the line, especially if the progressive side of Opeth along with the heavier side of Elder meets your listening tastes.

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