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Amoth - The Hour of the Wolf Award winner

Amoth
The Hour of the Wolf
by Chris Hicklin at 21 March 2022, 7:37 PM

Now in their sixteenth year, Finnish Progressive Heavy Metal outfit AMOTH are now three albums deep into their recording career with this, their latest offering “The Hour of the Wolf”. AMOTH are possibly not one of the most visible acts on the large and ever-expanding Finnish Metal scene but those already existing fans will be interested to know that the band have some returning pipes in vocal powerhouse Pekka Montin of ENSIFERUM who also provided vocals on their first release “Crossing Over”, replacing Tomi Kurtti who has defected to MYSTERIZER. As is evidenced by the astonishing, and almost jarring diversity established in just the first three songs, AMOTH pride themselves on being a band with multiple strings to their bow, coalescing around a base line of Traditional Heavy Metal but spicing it up with oodles of Progressive elements, jazz influences and wildly virtuosic guitar solos that draw heavily on the fluid and highly musically informed styles of the grandmasters of solo guitar, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

The first three songs form something of a Metal triumvirate Kicking off with the at first not-very-Proggy-sounding “Alice,” a name already imbued with layers of Metal folklore. You could be forgiven for thinking this is going to be an exercise in NWOBHM, but it doesn’t take long for tempos to start shifting, cascading scales are shredded with precision, and the song takes on several different personalities through the course of its four minutes. “The Man Who Watches the World Burn” (the man apparently being Joker from Batman) opens with some Power Metal keyboard stylings, it’s a more epic feel than the first track, but also has some good old fashioned Hard Rock riffing and features a nifty bass solo before we switch things up again with the faster, far more aggressive almost-Thrash track “Wounded Faith”. To a greater or lesser extent all these tracks weave progressive elements throughout the Heavy Metal DNA, while Pekka Montin shows off a variety of different singing styles from smooth melodic delivery to whoops, screams and growls. In just 3 songs the band have shown they can turn their hand to almost anything within the wider Metal genre.

It is here with the two-part instrumental “Wind Serenade” that the album turns inwards and loses a little focus. The first part is a technically wizardly guitar solo piece, performed with a clean tone, and utilizing multiple techniques such as hammer-ons and tapping, it’s certainly an impressive piece especially to perform without the cloak of overdrive, but not particularly interesting to anybody except guitar disciples. The second has a ‘70s Prog Rock style backing track form the band, but the meat on the bones is an extended melodic guitar solo that could ripped straight from any Steve Vai LP. Again, impressive, but just not that engaging.

Luckily after this diversion we have two absolute bangers to bring us back into the fold in “We Own the Night” and “It Ain't Over Yet,” the former being a hugely technically challenging piece that ducks, weaves, twists and turns through some crazy rhythmic ideas, switching up tempos seemingly endlessly. It’s no foot stomping singalong that is for sure, but those who enjoy listening to a group completely in control of their instruments and completely locked into each other will get a lot out of this. Despite the brilliance of this performance, “It Ain't Over Yet” comes as a bit of a relief as it dials the insanity back a little for something more traditional and digestible.

The bluesy and jazzy noodlings of ballad “Traces in The Snow” open up yet another dimension to the band’s sound as they put the brakes on for a few minutes, before spinning up the back wheel and blasting off into the distance on final Prog Power epic, title track “The Hour of the Wolf”.

The Hour of the Wolf” is not a microwave meal of an album, you’re not going to pop it in for 5 minutes and then absorb its yummy goodness, it’s going to take a little more of a commitment than that. It’s a dense record that takes a few listens to get your chops round, but it is worth the investment. I could talk for hours about the specific talents of each band member, but all you really need to know is that they are all expert performers. The production is as weighty and bold as the writing, and while the record does occasionally feel burdened by its own considerable ambition and occasionally reckless six-string showmanship, it pulls together some disparate elements into a uniquely successful style all of the band’s own making. If there is any justice in the world, this will be the LP that will see the name AMOTH whispered reverentially by Metal Heads around the world.

Songwriting:9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Alice
2. The Man Who Watches the World Burn
3. Wounded Faith
4. Wind Serenade Part I
5. Wind Serenade Part II
6. We Own the Night
7. It Ain’t Over Yet
8. Traces in The Snow
9. The Hour of The Wolf
Lineup:
Anne Lanttola - Bass
Tomi Ihanamäki - Guitars
Mikael Rauhala - Guitars
Pekka Montin - Vocals, Keyboards
Oskari Viljanen – Drums
Record Label: Rockshots Records
     


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Edited 29 November 2022
 

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