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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”