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Treasure what came before it - 58%

Byrgan, December 3rd, 2010

These evil-doin' south Brazilians return in the next decade with a shuffle of members and another sizable gap between their last. The genre is an obvious one with the title "Lucification," and in turn delivers tunes unmistakable to some general sounds in black metal, along with other offshoot portions in the way of earlier Varathron. Amen Corner might resemble their prior tendencies with the occasional slower section or some area that isn't afraid to touch deeper placed notes, but overall this is going to be a different experience than their '90s material.

I'm at a loss for what happened to the band's thicker production of the past. This has a really tiny drum set that lacks backing power with the exception of the toms producing some weight. It's not incredibly low in volume like raw black metal and it's somewhat loud in the mix, but the actual kit appears miniaturized. The title track opens up with solo playing and then the guitars end up cutting them down like a scythe to wheat when they come gliding in. The clicks from the double bass are asphyxiated and the snare might as well be a marching drum with its tightness. It's not a precise sharpness, but still ridiculously distracting when he does these toy machine gun blasts that are far from paving down anything that gets in its way, more like the other way around.

The guitars have a certain level of distortion but are missing some of the muscle to put force to the chunkier palm muted rhythms when they occur. The raspy and screamed vocals by the new frontman, Lokiam, are the loudest in the mix and are pronounced with their actual level and projection, though occasionally to the point of annoyance. Once spouting a paragraph of lyrics, his delivery is just continual without major diversion or accentuation; you can essentially predict that he's going to use a punctuated scream no matter if the underlying music calls for it or not. The sound here would be one thing if the band was churning out tons of open tremolo or generating a fair share of moodily strummed chords, but this is black metal that's partly playing with some heaviness in their composition and one aspect doesn't always translate to the other. Therefore it's not a release that you can get completely lost in its atmosphere due to a constant pull out of it, where in the past they would gradually stack on the dark components, and then before you know, your senses are worshipping it in staggering awe.

"Lucification" isn't exactly a comeback album for Amen Corner. The band made an attempt, their middling tunes are passing by my ears, some memorable portions come and go, but this release isn't riding with big enough wheels to set in motion again to what they've already accomplished. With the production, it doesn't sound like a "band," more like separate entities at different moments. I've heard lo-fi demo recordings that are more uniform, even if still far more abrasive. There's no major effects to clench it together or layers so you wouldn't see right through it with transparency; some of the solos do smoothly glide in with some effects to lift their volume and gain your attention. This isn't a modern digital travesty or filled with triggers or something like that, and I'm sure the band was going with some natural disposition, but still weren't able to completely bring that home with a steady captivation sound and music wise.