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... And Sometimes We Can Fly - 70%

Sean16, March 28th, 2021

Second, and last-to-date, effort from Amederia, Unheard Prayer looks at first glance every inch like a carbon copy of its predecessor Sometimes We Have Wings. Again, it features some angelic creature on the cover artwork. Again, it opens on a piano track, and closes on another. Again, in its middle, it is split in two by a long, non-metal keyboard-driven ballad. And, again, it directly derives most of its inspiration from well-known Swedish gothic-doom metal act Draconian... With the essential difference that, this time, the musicians knew what they were doing, knew where they were going.

Let’s go back to the cover artwork, and consider the angel. Desperate, resigned attitude; torn wings more reminiscent of worn-out bedlinen than of edenic visions, whatever those might be. The music somehow followed the same dereliction process; finally, it bites, finally, it crushes. The evolution is obvious as soon as the first chords of Who We Are resonate: now, these guitars have weight. The piano has gone from omnipresent, on the debut album, to almost absent from the heaviest tracks here, retrograded to the part of a simple atmospheric enhancement, to be advantageously replaced by extended lead guitar sections. When it still tinkles, far and sick, it no longer sounds that light-hearted. The singers have matured, too, the male growled parts sounding more aggressive, the female parts much deeper, now almost devoid of the approximately emitted high notes too frequently heard on Sometimes We Have Wings.

Not that the old demons aren’t knocking back from time to time – for instance, the piano ballad, Dance of Two Swans, no doubt sounds much better than its homologue from the debut, especially thanks to a now fully mastered clean male / female vocals duet; still, did it really have to last no less than seven long minutes? Or take Angel’s Fall, the slowest track, at first depressing and gloomy alright with its loud ambient backing keys, but, also and alas, lacking of any real backbone to structure it, thus soon becoming increasingly tedious as it drags on. These grips set aside, Amederia now seem ready to – occasionally – challenge Draconian on their own personal ground, especially considering that Draconian’s material hasn’t always been the most consistent, to say the least.

Most important, the riffs, the songs, are finally... memorable, a characteristic that was cruelly lacking in their predecessors. Every time monotony may threaten to settle in, the guys and girl manage to pull out a somehow unexpected trick to keep it at bay; like a discrete flute on a couple of tracks, a few clean vocals lines popping up here and there, or the shrill music-box-like refrains which open Loneliness in Heaven and Angel’s Fall. All of those only for a few bars each time, but these are already enough to confer the corresponding songs a distinct personality. And, eventually, there’s Together, easily the best achievement so far in Amederia’s short discography, led by an obsessive riff which, as the track progresses, follows a slow decomposition process, before dying on a few disillusioned piano chords. A track where, for once, the piano and guitars no longer sound like they are competing to steal the show from each other, but instead work hand in hand to build the atmosphere of diffuse melancholy the targeted listener usually expects from the genre. Well, it was about time.

Is it sufficient to make Unheard Prayer indispensable? Certainly not, except perhaps for Draconian clones completists. Still, the improvement it represented over the band’s first album was impressive enough to make the absence of a third effort regrettable, for, though not officially split-up, as of 2021 Amederia nonetheless seem to have more or less vanished from the scene. Angels fall first, so they say.

Highlights: Who We Are, Loneliness in Heaven, Together