Album Review - Amoral - Beneath

Written by  Published in Album Reviews Monday, 13 February 2012 23:40

Amoral_Beneath_CD_cover_hires_470

Today Amoral releases their fifth album, Beneath, in the U.S. It’s a power rock valentine. This is the one songwriter and guitarist Ben Varon spoke with us about last month. He’s pretty proud of it. And why not - this album shows their sound being honed down to a science, which any songwriter who takes care to put together meticulously thought-out and structured compositions would be proud of.

The album opener is the title track, which starts out with this epic orchestral intro, like the opening credits of a nature documentary, before crashing down into full-out metal guitars. Then when Ari Koivunen’s vocals come in, the song begins to unravel this imagery that feels something like sitting at the bottom of a cold, dark sewer tunnel. Or something like that. The point being that the lyrical imagery is strong, backed by pounding metal precision.

This track is one of the two on the album (with the second being the closing track “Of Silent Stares and Fire Lost”) that are actually quite classical, with structures very much like mini-suites. They explore several emotions throughout, and become metaphors in themselves with their own ups and downs of key changes, varying tempos, volumes, and heaviness. This element also doubles as being both intricate and totally relatable. The execution is structured and exact, but the content is emotional – relationships, regrets, disillusionment – emotions that everyone has at times but don’t always know how to interpret or express them. It’s almost even more impressive that Varon & Co. can find the time to have these rollercoaster relationships and life experiences, as well as be proficient enough to be able to create and play these intricate power rock  songs about them.

The album as a whole is a good balance between the full-throttle metal with super charged melody, and more minimal acoustic parts interspersed. There are even a few songs that still feature growling vocals, such as “(Won’t Go) Home,” where the music becomes the melodic counterpoint, but the majority of Koivunen’s parts focus on his voice as being the most melodic component in a raging storm of guitars. “Same Difference,” for example, has a chorus that is easy to sing along to, but dives into bonafide stadium rock with soaring guitar solos. “Wasteland” is an acoustic standout, showing another side of the band’s musicianship with more interesting key changes and production. The album actually ends on a bonus track, “Sleeping With Strangers,” which has some blues harp thrown in for the faintest hint of the blues before hitting their power chord stride with power attitude and delivery. The cut that ended up getting the video treatment first is "Silhouette," which is maybe one of the most straightforward songs, but may further explain that dark and dank imagery...

Beneath is out now on The End Records, and Amoral will be rocking out their heavy mini-suites in the flesh at SXSW.

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 01:51
Kelly Knapp

I grew up listening to the music my parents listened to. My mom gave me some of her “Golden Oldies” cassette tapes, and I could sit in my room for hours harmonizing with The Ronettes, and staring at Del Shannon, who I thought was a total stud in his tiny black and white photo on the glossy fold-out insert. I listened to Willie Nelson because my Dad admired him so much, and I wanted to understand what was so great about him too. My first concert wasn’t a huge life changer; I saw Inner Circle at a local Jambalaya festival in Central Florida. Their biggest hit was “Bad Boys,” the theme song to COPS. If anything, that concert should have traumatized me. But, at the time I had no comprehension of any crassness. I just remember the guitarist making eye contact with me and smiling, and feeling excitement over having a brief connection with someone who was making me dance.

It’s the same thing with listening to music with words in another language. It’s not necessary to understand words or literal meanings. It’s the way the melodies and rhythms evoke feeling. It’s like that saying about art, how you may not be able to explain it, but you know it when you see it. I can’t always describe music (although obviously, I sure as hell try to), but I know what I like when I feel it, and I think those who can evoke that feeling deserve to be acknowledged for it. That’s what I want to describe. That’s what I want to share.

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