Tiamat – The Scarred People (Napalm Records)Wednesday, 27th March 2013
Discussion with Sweden’s Tiamat apparently begins and ends with Wildhoney. Ask anyone…there is no other album in the band’s discography, even though Johan Edlund and crew were part of the first wave of Stockholm death metal (as Treblinka), and released the massively underrated Skeleton Skeletron in 1999. From there, the band’s output has been spotty, thanks in large part to sleep-inducing arrangements and most importantly, the Gothic/atmospheric metal world having totally passed these guys by. So it always goes back to Wildhoney, the band’s 1994 benchmark, the shortest epic atmospheric metal album in history at only 34 minutes. Beyond recommended, by the way.
The Scarred People sees the band jump to Napalm Records, making the Austria-based label Tiamat’s third record company in as many albums. Granted, it’s weird seeing the band away from the Century Media banner (after all, they were the label’s highest selling band in the 90’s), so a fresh start brought credence to the fact that Tiamat might make a run for the glory fields of Wildhoney. The Scarred People wants nothing to do with it, of course, carrying on the lounge-lizard Goth rock that has been the band’s calling card since the aforementioned Skeleton Skeletron.
Scant traces of metal hover around on the title track, which opens the album. However, Tiamat’s attempts at metal (or even hard rock, which this really is) are no longer the band’s strengths, as the title track, along with “Radiant Star” and “The Red of the Mourning Sun” come across as subterranean faux leather rock, more than anything. On the reverse, the shimmering “The Sun Also Rises” is a beauteous number, with Edlund’s murky vocal tones being the perfect complement to a gentle main riff. “Messinian Letter” is another winner, brought home by some relatable lyrics (“You are my only friend”), serving as the album’s off-beat, out-of-character, near-countrified moment that is as bright and engaging as anything Tiamat has done.
Hard to figure out where Tiamat sits in today’s metal landscape, only because like so many bands from the mid-90’s Gothic metal era (see: The Gathering, Moonspell, Paradise Lost, etc.) their gradual shift away from metal has cost them a large portion of their fanbase. Yet, they continue to hang around, based largely upon Wildhoney’s influence, which casts a massive pall over a solid, but not spectacular album like The Scarred People.
(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)