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In a pool of crimson blood. - 75%

Diamhea, April 25th, 2016

Montreal's Talamyus exist as a rare instance wherein I've had the pleasure of seeing the band perform live. In this case, as an opening act for Kalmah during their For the Revolution tour in Canada during Spring 2008. I have to admit that I wasn't really paying much attention to Talamyus then, but I do have a positive recollection of the experience overall. So since I am jumping into Honour Is Our Code, Death Is the Reward somewhat blindly, I have no preexisting standing to compare this album to. This band is labeled as melodic death metal, and while that is the primary constituent of their style, this isn't sappy or pontifical in the slightest. Talamyus are in the minority concerning the fact that they will appeal to a much wider audience, and make stellar use of the blackened Viking aesthetic that ensconces a Dissection-esque death/black centrifuge.

In fact, this sort of cohesive narrative orchestrates the band beyond the more typical parameters of Swedish-sounding melodic death, resulting in two songs that breach the ten minute mark, and a collective runtime of over an hour. It's a bit much to take in and to be honest, the longer songs do have their moments of misdirection and bloated pretense; but even at their worst, Talamyus are still more than listenable. The rougher contours granted by the unusually dissonant riffing (for the style) arm the band to the teeth, responsible for many flesh ripping tremolos ("J├Ârmungand") offset by some more standard staccato-esque melodeath riffing that isn't nearly as engaging. Regardless, Honour Is Our Code, Death Is the Reward is an epic sounding record, akin to earlier Amon Amarth. The slicing chord patterns and zipping, unhinged tremolos that propel "Bring the Weak to Their Knees" forward are nearly worth the price of admission on their own. Talamyus aren't a particularly speedy band overall though, comfortable in more of an upper-mid paced jaunt that seems to lend itself to the overall aesthetic of the album and style quite efficiently.

I also enjoyed the sporadic inclusion of the triumphant clean vocals, which offset the primary blackened snarl well enough. In fact, I was hoping for more instances of such, since the band occasionally finds themselves festooned in monotonous chugging patterns that sort of lose their visceral appeal quicker than intended. Some of my favorites include the aforementioned "Bring the Weak to Their Knees" and the anthemic closer "Until Death, We Ride," which includes some welcome gang shouts and would definitely excel in the live arena. While the Viking-themed narrative is well fleshed-out, these are necessarily tropes that we haven't heard before, in fact some of them like "Blood Eagle" have been beaten into dust by other bands. We get it, it's a cool concept and extremely inventive form of execution (if it was ever even performed), but let's not get too carried away with it. The blood eagle still has nothing on scaphism, for the especially morbid of you out there.

I'm losing the plot here, so to wrap proceedings up, Honour Is Our Code, Death Is the Reward is a polished and professional release, as expected with the five year downtime since Raven's Call to Annihilation. Riffs are monolithic, pounding and close to doom territory in some instances like "Loki's Punishment," but the primary assault is a pseudo-dissonant, blackened tremolo barrage redolent of many Viking-themed death metal bands. In that regard, Talamyus don't do a whole lot to stand out, but still find themselves on the precipice of the pack, just a few steps away from breaking loose and becoming a genre mainstay. That said, fans of melodeath with a sprinkling of blackened vehemence inter alia Norse aesthetics, Honour Is Our Code, Death Is the Reward is a worthwhile listen. No matter what your individual preference, Talamyus are worth your time.

Promo courtesy of The Metal Observer