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Inspired drunk - 93%

gasmask_colostomy, November 8th, 2016

Having discovered Sentenced with the irresistible Down and slowly plundered most of the treasures from their gothic metal years, I eventually got around to listening to the whole of Amok, which I had previously heard only a few songs from. I had known it would be significantly different (a new singer, a new style, new themes - though really I mean old since this precedes Down), but what continues to surprise me as I listen again and again is that it really is different. I mean, what other metal band was playing like this in 1995? And has anyone else returned to the sound since? Amok remains a celebrated fluke, a majestic one-off.

So how is it different? That's a really hard question to answer, because a lot of the material here could be connected to other sounds, like the soaring melodic fire that Miika Tenkula douses everything with, which is oh-so-close to early melodeath, or the epic grandeur that swells up in the intro to 'Forever Lost', which would fit both power metal and Iron Maiden, or even the cheeky 'Funeral Spring', which is just pure rock guitar heroism. People seem to want to connect this to the Gothenburg sound, but there's really no pretext on which one can, since Amok rarely sounds like a death metal album, playing much more with classic, power, and even epic doom riffs, while shirking most of the heaviness that Sentenced wielded on previous album North from Here. Sometimes too, the descent from metal into less intense rock music is noticeable, such as during the softer chugging riffs of 'Dance on the Graves (Lil' Siztah')' or the classic distorted lick in 'Funeral Spring' or even the blues rock (maybe rock and roll) keys at the conclusion of 'Forever Lost', including the sweep of the keyboard to end.

Purely as description, that must all sound like a total mess and - on paper at least - it is. However, what makes Amok work is the way that those elements are combined, which says a lot for the chemistry and skill of the bandmembers. Either these songs have been rehearsed the fuck out of and embellished during those rehearsals or someone is an absolute genious, because the tightness of the four-piece while flitting from movement to movement is outstanding, as well as all those disparate elements being fully integrated. The masterstroke is clearly Miika Tenkula, whose lead guitar is just everywhere and never disappoints, floating melodies across every song with a clear, ringing tone that frequently elevates the songs into epic territory at an instant's notice. His six-string partner Sami Lopakka has plenty of moments too, not exactly going for broke with riffs (though there are enough to satisfy) but providing atmospheric backing at reasonably slow pace in songs like 'Moon Magick' and some great acoustics that never outstay their welcome. Both guitarists are also credited with keyboards, layering them into songs subtly for the most part, except for that blues spaz in 'Forever Lost'. Vesa Ranta keeps his hand in too, ensuring that the more relaxed sections maintain some power and thundering through when the band charges forwards, plus Taneli Jarva has as much joy with bass (his intro to 'Forever Lost' is gloriously warm) as vocals. The vocals themselves are the cherry on the cake; much looser than the music and emotional too, using a rather ragged semi-harsh voice as well as some cleaner tones to good effect.

Barring the instrumental 'The Golden Stream of Lapland', every song has lyrics that you can wail along to (Sentenced would like you to sing while very drunk on vodka - see story of '0132' being named after the barcode on the bottle), but especially the climactic chorus of 'Phenix', the melody of which is also going to give you shivers as it rises overhead in a shimmer of flame. 'The War Ain't Over!' is also a great opener: deceivingly simple in its aggression, there's actually a lot of nuance hidden in its length, my favourite part going to the muted power metal picking shuddering along under the chorus. Everything is good though, and the only times I get sceptical are when 'Dance on the Graves' gets that distorted whispered vocal thrown in and the otherwise wistful 'The Golden Stream of Lapland' receives a sample from Full Metal Jacket, which is humorous but completely out of context. If you're in favour of anything with guitar melodies and searing emotion, you'll be wanting to run straight to the record store and get Amok.

Sentenced - Amok - 90%

tcgjarhead, August 14th, 2012

This is my first foray into post Shadows of Past Sentenced material. I saw on Metal Archives that the band was playing melodic death metal so I figured I'd give one of the albums a shot to see whether I liked what the band had put out or not. After the first few seconds it became very clear that the band played something that bordered on melodeath but more so took what people accuse In Flames of doing, playing Iron Maiden but with harsh vocals, to the next level.

This is almost like listening to early Iron Maiden but with a bit more of a classic rock and even 80s rock influence thrown in for good measure. And its pulled off very successfully I have to say. The music itself is extremely melodic and at times has a pretty epic feel to it. I love the bits with the harmonized guitars which along with some of the riffing is probably what in large part calls to mind Iron Maiden.

Taneli Jarva's vocals are on a high register like a lot of the Gothenburg bands, which is neither good nor bad, it just is. He does here and there do something that is like a half growl/half scream to change things up. Simplicity is the key on Amok. Whether it be the riffs, drumming, song structures, ect ect, it is all simplistic. But this is one of those cases where it was probably for the best and in the end run helped the album become more enjoyable. It of course probably doesn't hurt that the style that the band chose to emulate is far more easily consumed than their earlier output.

I thoroughly enjoy Amok, both as someone who enjoys early Iron Maiden, and melodic death metal. I don't think its a stretch that both of those camps would enjoy what Sentenced produced with this album. Its got great production too and holds up quite well going on 17 years later. Amok is an album that I can see myself jamming to years from now due to its re-playability.

Originally reviewed @ http://abaddonsmetalshop.blogspot.com/

Oh, had they only kept Taneli Jarva forever... - 95%

autothrall, November 12th, 2009

Amok is an important album for me in many ways. Perhaps it's an important album for everyone and they just don't know it. One of the earliest triumphs to emerge from the cross-pollination of death metal and classic, melodic riffing, it's one of the true forebears of the 'melodeath' we know today, though not one which has often been copied nor equaled. It's also a crushing frustration, because it's the last full-length with Taneli Jarva on vocals, and neither Sentenced nor his new band The Black League would ever write an album even close to this in quality.

This is a perfect union of death metal roots aggression and melody. The band had an interesting style going on its predecessor North From Here, which was a melancholic but extremely melodic take on straight laced death metal. Amok is not really a 'death' metal album. Jarva's vocals are still growls, and loaded with character at that, but the music here is classic, melodic metal full of triumphant hooks and solid verse rhythms. "The War Ain't Over!" begins with some flange guitars over the samples of bombs and cannon fire, and then the guitars break out into a crazy awesome melody after a few keyboard notes. Jarva's slathering, almost drunk sounding vocals drive it home, before a brief acoustic bridge. The rest of the track is pure magic, without a single mispaced noted. Brilliant. "Phenix" goes one further with an AMAZING melody to lead off. The bluesy metal riffing of the verse is excellent, and the emotional inertia of its chorus is beautiful. "New Age Messiah" offers a sad and wondrous stream of mutes and chords which would characterize a great many of their future material. But it also has Taneli Jarva's explosive vocal tethering, and a tasteful touch of very brief female vocals. I would explode every time I heard this chorus!

This and a few other albums (Elegy, Passage, The Jester Race, etc) restored my faith that metal could offer something new and impressive after the waning early 90s. "Forever Lost" is another stunning track with some great acoustic riffs and interesting, majestic build-up. Fire...fire...dance with me! Oh the bliss. The great riffs. "Funeral Spring" creates a bluesy Southern feel over some slower metal chords yet fits right in with the faster material. Jarva uses a deep clean voice intertwined with his growls here. "Nepenthe" is a crystalline acoustic that transforms into pure balls out metal rocking. "Dance on the Graves ('lil Siztah)" is another of the more experimental, rock tunes but still flows with some excellent metal melodies. One could consider these past few tracks the prelude to Jarva's future rock'n'roll direction with The Black League. "Moon Magick" is a mood piece with some great drumming and layers of guitar atmospherics. "The Golden Stream of Lapland" completes the album, an excellent instrumental with some burning, immersive leads.

In 1995 there were few musicians writing material of this quality, in metal or otherwise. Not to mention the durability! It may not bear the densely overdubbed production values of today's artists, but Amok still has a classic, fresh appeal. All the instruments sound clear, fantastic, yet there is a raw edge manifest in Jarva's vocals which creates an organic sheen. Such a creative and expressive use of polar metal extremes in tangent! By far the best material Sentenced have ever produced. Ville Laihiala was a decent singer but really a one trick pony. His voice, consistent though it is, never captured that drunken rage and 'about to fall off the horse' quality which characterized this masterpiece. This is an essential album to own if you like metal with melody or really any good rock music.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Creative, high quality Metal. A masterpiece! - 95%

CoffinText, April 4th, 2009

“So drink to forget
And drown all your sorrow
Bury your dreams
Choose mind refinery”


Amok, Sentenced’s third full length release, is an album that reeks of pessimism and gloom, frustration and anger, sadness and pain. Every lyric, every note and every vocal line is a representation that reflects the negativity of this world. Sentenced is also one of those Metal bands that prove that quality does not necessarily equal heaviness and speed. For one, Amok isn’t a Death Metal album, nor is it even a Melodic DM album. This isn’t really Death Metal by any stretch of the word, with the exception of Jarva’s vocal delivery. The melodic, duel guitar passages found on the band’s previous releases, North From Here and The Trooper, were carried on to this record, put to use with near perfection and a flawless performance. However, this is in no way North From Here part II. If North From Here was more a less a record for the winter, with its cold, harsh sound, then Amok is definitely an album for the Spring or the Autumn. There is a general “warm” atmosphere that flows through out the tracks.

To put it bluntly, Amok is diversity incarnate. There are signs of experimentation prevalent in every track. And while all instrumentation is completely balanced out perfectly within the mix, the vocals are one to differ with their up front 'in your face' placement. What was once a competent Black Metal shriek or occasional Death Metal growl on North From Here, has now become a solemn, quasi-Death Metal lament, which is what seems to be heard this time around. Jarva has now focused his vocal points onto a low, sometimes almost clean-sung grunt, which is executed with much emotion and power. But the bottom line here is that Taneli Jarva is an extreme Metal vocalist, and since Amok isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill extreme Metal album, Jarva seems to be clinging on to dear life here in comparison to the rest of the band! His voice doesn’t really fit this type of music at all, but you know what….

…I fucking love it! The vocals within this release emulate emotions of melancholy, which not only corresponds with the funereal-esque duel harmonies of more somber tracks like “Forever Lost“, but also correlates well with tracks like “The War Ain’t Over!”, “New Age Messiah” and the Maiden-esque “Dance On The Graves (Lil’ Siztah)”. But you know what? To be honest, if Iron Maiden actually decided to borrow some ideas and formulas from the darker, heavier side of Metal for their next album, this is probably what it would end up sounding like. Also, as stated before, it sounds like Taneli Jarva is attempting to sing clean and hit certain vocal notes while trying to maintaining his death growl, which honestly, is pretty unique. This is most prevalent in the best track on the album, “Nepenthe”; a tune that also incorporates the sounds of acoustics and a few female soprano vocals, perfecting it’s overall gloomy atmosphere, while dissenting itself for somewhat of a “rockish” approach in its overall riff structure.

Now it’s also debatable as to whether or not Amok is Sentenced’s crowning achievement because of its odd nature within the particular Metal scene at the time. But many hail it as the pinnacle of the band’s career. Well, maybe it is, but it’s not quite my personal favorite. I’ll get to that a little later on. But for now, just know what an amazing and exclusive album this is. I can’t exactly pinpoint what I particularly like about it the most, because it all comes together so smoothly. The literal definition of the word “Amok” is “a psychic disturbance characterized by depression followed by a manic urge to murder”, or…it can also mean that you’re in a confused state of mind. Now clearly, this record reflects both definitions. It establishes the sounds of a band that was probably in a confused state of mind at the time, yet, were flaring up with creative ideas, as they weren’t afraid to venture off into brand new territory. I guess that explains the high use of acoustics, female vocals and the striking keyboard work that’s featured in a few of the songs. But, like I said, it all comes to together so perfectly!

This album is a must hear, it doesn't matter what genre of Metal you prefer. Few albums are actually this fucking awesome, yet, diverse. This record is also a great place to start if you're just getting into Sentenced.



“This tension, this pressure...
Sweat and feel the air too thick to breathe!
Feel hatred, fear hatred...
Wait the chaos that shall breed”

From a melodeath perspective - 50%

zervyx, December 19th, 2007

Many times this album has been classified as melodic death metal, and it does have some of the elements, but still this is not a typical melodic death album, first of all there’s a huge difference between “Amok” and albums of bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates. By example, the songs in this album are slow paced in comparison to the typical melodeath bands. When it comes to the guitar work “Amok” doesn’t have as much Maiden influence as other bands have, instead it has some rock elements and “folkish” parts such as acoustic guitars. The rock influence is really notorious in the song “Funeral spring”, there’s just too much guitar work with wah effect and is also one of the most boring songs of the album.

The vocals are just ok. As for melodic death metal, even the band In Flames has better growls, mainly because the singer here seems to be using just half growls and half rock singing. So, I don’t think all melodeath fans would like this album, some parts of the songs are great but in general the album sounds boring to me, even their new "suicide metal" material seems to be faster and more dynamic.

My favorite songs of the album are “New Age Messiah”, “Forever Lost” and “Phenix”; those are the songs that could make this album worth it, but unfortunately “New Age Messiah” starts boring as hell, you have to wait for one minute to get to something interesting. The lyrics are great, the chorus is quite catchy, there’s an awesome lead guitar following the vocals in a melodic way.

“Forever lost” is another good song, but again it starts with a boring one minute piece of slow guitar chords with some guy speaking. The outstanding part of the song is the guitar riff in the 4:50 minute, which is also the interlude to a great guitar solo. This song has some female singing in the chorus.

I would recommend this album to people that seeking for rock orientated melodeath.

Amazing transition record - 92%

KK, April 13th, 2004

So this is what we get when you take the remnants of North From Here and Shadows of the Past and combine them with what would be newer Sentenced.

First off, this album isn't really Death Metal, so get that thought out of your head. If you can call it anything, call it Heavy Metal.

I love the vocals on this disc. I've always loved Finnish vocals, and these scathing growls are the perfect fit.

The guitar work is creative and quite interesting compared to the monotony of North From Here and Shadows of the Past. The death metallers might argue that this melody is shit and led to the modern scandinavian "melodic" or "gothernburg" sound, but you can't apply that to Amok. Check out the lead work on The War Ain't Over and Phenix for some good shit.

My only beef with Amok is its consistency. I can listen to Phenix, Forever Lost, Moon Magick, and The War Ain't Over at any time, but it's harder to get into the other stuff.

Keep an open mind when listening to this and you should enjoy it.

Indeed - 95%

Znarglaxe, December 24th, 2002

As I am new to this site, most of you will not know that this is one of my favorite albums of all time. In this review, I shall share my inane banterings on how great this album is.

First, i would like to point out that relatively few bands have done and still fail to do what sentenced did on this album.

Okay, now with the review.

This album is simply amazing. This is truly the epic point to what would be known as Melodic (or Progressive) Death Metal. The songs envision something so truly epic, and the imagery of the words, coupled with the melody of the guitar Miika Tenkula pulls off so well, as well as Vesa Ranta's little triplet "slam" that he does, in addition to Lopakka's impeccable playing the rhythm section, and Jarva's eerie if not haunting wail, contain the ability to just completely and utterly sweep you off of your feet. Never before has anything so utterly blown me away (other than Maiden's "Powerslave", "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son", "Piece of Mind", and "Brave new World", and Nightwish's "Wishmaster") in such a way. This album, is truly a masterpiece.

What makes it so good? Let's have a look at the songs. The War Ain't Over? Simply brilliant, mayhaps a little long in getting to the tender meat inside the shell, but this song simply astouds masses with it's ferocity. It has a definite post war feel to it, while at the same time sweeping you back into the frays of the battle. At times, it may become a little droning, but as Sentenced's earlier work has proven, they can pull themselves out with a mere change in timing. Phenix? Indeed another good song, a little slow on the execution. A very good song that has a great "pulling back" feel, as an ocean wave does. It pulls the listener into a daze as the music pulls their mind into a state of trance, then the chorus comes along and smashes their thoughts. This song is good, but not one of the highlights. Excellent musicianship though. New Age Messiah? This song is a true melodic death metal gem. It has merit in that it has timing changes which indicate sections of the song (Chorus, Pre Chorus, etc) and add an effect of surging chaos as the chorus approaches. Also, this song is one the best songs i have heard interweave the ever present Solo in with the body of the song. Superb. Foreverlost? Indeed the true masterpiece of a true masterpiece. This song starts off with a mellow note, then turns to a marching feel, with the haunting lines of "Everyman" said in the background. As it comes into the main part of the song, the beginning of the body is an utterly masterful melody which ensnares the mind's very essence and pulls you into the song. The entire song is original, and is definitely a musical creation of massive proportions. The fusion of female vocals with Jarva's is a nice touch too. Funeral Spring is my least favorite from this album. In general, the first four songs are the best on the album, but the Last four songs are indeed great also. After "Funeral Spring" Sentenced once again nails us with such classics as "Dance on the Graves" "Moon Magick" "Nepenthe" and "The Golden Stream of Lapland" (The intro to "Dance on the Graves" sounds like the chase level in "Battletoads VS Double Dragon"'s level music.) In all actuality, the only mediocre song on this album is Funeral Spring, and that is why it did not get a 100 from me.

All in all, if you are not a fan of very melodic DM, then do not check this out. Also, fans of high quality production, might skip this over, as it does have a rather low quality production, or at least an average production. And also, Jarva's voice is an aquired taste, if you did not like his stuff on NFH, you will not like his on this.

A must-get essential of metal. Get it.