Animamortua – Gods Among Us (Underground Symphony Records)Wednesday, 18th October 2023
Malta is an island country in Southern Europe, located in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s also the homeland for Animamortua, a five-piece outfit that traverse a power / progressive metal style with elements of thrash and speed interspersed to great effect for this full-length album Gods Among Us. Previously releasing an independent EP State of Chaos in 2015, the band has performed at local festivals and also shared the stage with artists like Blaze Bayley, Orphaned Land, and Civil War. This lengthy eight-song platter contains plenty of stellar musicianship, powerhouse vocal melodies, and passion for acts like Nevermore, Symphony X, and Heathen among others, adding up to an almost hour-long aural deep dive that may take numerous passes to fully appreciate.
Early on the twin rhythm barrage along with the relentless double kick mechanics deliver tremendous downtuned thrust to the musical foundation – its where the heaviest parts of “Dying Universe” and “Blackhole” make you think of early to mid-90’s efforts from Iced Earth, Nevermore, and offshoots in that power/thrash realm where thick triplets or tremendous picking strokes sent shivers down spines. Unison gang shouting vocals also offer contrast to the tremendous pipes and soaring range courtesy of singer Juan Xerri – his depth of note choices rivaling the best of Warrel Dane, Geoff Tate, and Russell Allen during highlights like “Heliocentric Affair” or the serene to propulsive driving title cut. Beyond the first five tracks, the record closes on a three-part epic “Lunar Sentinel” saga – taking up the final 26 minutes of the record. “Inside the Machine” sets the stage in more of a spacious semi-ballad format that gets heavier while kicking into second gear during the instrumental passages, while “Operation Sin” flexes a bit more of their progressive thrash muscles, serving up some killer shredding lead breaks before the closer “Dystopian Earth” provides that titanic sledgehammer, a rollercoaster arrangement featuring numerous time signature shifts and melodic to doomy passages before ending on a triumphant note.
While this style of metal isn’t the most popular in the genre probably due to its sophisticated songwriting and necessary schooled musicianship skills, Animamortua are tremendous at their execution in the power/progressive-oriented thrash realm for Gods Among Us. An unsung gem worth looking into if those previously mentioned bands are in your wheelhouse.