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Bench pressing black metal - 80%

Byrgan, November 29th, 2010

Certain black metal bands by '92 were still loosely defined by today's outlook: Immortal and Darkthrone had thicker instruments and less melody; from Archgoat to Von had grizzly bears behind mics; Beherit and Impaled Nazarene grinded blasphemies into skulls; and from Barathrum to Samael crawled forward on bellies. Even in death metal Acheron, Incantation, Deicide and Morbid Angel had pronounced productions, but lyrics that shared hue with coal and magic markers; some bands had gore on their minds from early Death and Necrophagia, and others rode the never-ceasing Venom train. It became easier later on (but not necessarily more productive) when bm got saturated with lo-fi and bass-free production, higher and palm-mute-less guitars, and shrieking vocals, but with Amen Corner's take, get ready for music that feels dark but has enough leverage to heave up your car.

The band switches up tempos throughout. This isn't completely fast, neither blasting it or paying homage to quicker thrash from the prior decade. Yet, there are moments that might resemble mid-'80s Slayer with higher stringed rhythms during some break downs. There is even a "Raining Blood"-like break at one point where the drums attempt to shadow an ultra simplistic form of what Dave Lombardo was all about. The strength of the music is in keeping the energy bustling and changeups busy, so the flow is consistent and there aren't any traps and pitfalls to get tangled in. The intro is somewhat long and gradual by building up to the metal music—think of Bathory with style. There's also an organ that produces a transition between tracks to keep you continually in "the zone."

The drums are going for maximum heaviness by pounding the skins like hammers and then frequently paving the way with double bass. The guitars sneak a few simplistic and calmer leads, though the rhythms lug around massive weight and gradually unload muscle tearing exertion in their extended strums and steroid injected chug. The vocals are definitely a grab-your-attention feature, and I wish they were just as over-the-top and animated on later recordings. They mainly deliver a howling rasp/growl with the rasp portion winning the main personality, along with these extended screams that sound scorched from hellfire itself. The clean and slapped-around bass guitar, instead of being a simple guest, appears to be a star to the show as it's just as audible as the guitars.

Amen Corner's early recording is already at a refined enough point that it isn't distracting by having to hear the band go through what works and doesn't. The production could have used a little more volume but would be amped up on the full length. Not to say that each piece is perfection or brilliant invention, though the band essentially takes workable characteristics in extreme metal and unloads a tidal wave of dark vigor.