Dying Embrace EP
by Armchair Anarchist

When track one, the self-titled and instrumental ‘Amethyst’, begins, you have a good idea where the rest is going to lead you: Deep into dark and tainted power-metal territory, to be precise; as your goblin guide bounds off into the fog-cloaked woods, cackling insanely with its tongue firmly in its cheek. Gothic influenced bands often take themselves far too seriously but it’s instantly obvious that Amethyst take themselves just seriously enough. In other words, they focus on the music itself and don’t let the image turn them into po-faced advocates of self-harm. Track two, ‘Moonstruck’, opens with a keyboard intro that Fields of the Nephilim would have been proud of. Then it cuts loose with their trademark 'Iron-Maiden-in-a-graveyard' guitar barrage; solid, chugging chords with subtle lead flourishes that stay on the sidelines. The rest of the EP sticks to the formula; strident riffs and bold, pacey drumming, while the bass underpins it all without becoming intrusive. In short, guitar music for head-banging, not moshing. Deep, declamatory vocals sit solidly on top of the mix. You can almost see the singer shaking his fist at the moon. The authentic ‘gothique’ vibrato vocal moments cock a wink toward a long tradition of cod-metal singing, reminding your reviewer of Dave Vanian in his prime, although in a manner he can’t quite put his finger on. This could all too easily become unbearable if it wasn’t for the enjoyable cheesiness of the lyrics themselves. Reminiscent of Type O Negative trying to rip off early Kirk Hammett era Exodus, the traditional themes of witches, werewolves and lovelorn despair are treated with just enough irony to make you smile instead of scowl. The dynamics and song structure belie the youth of the band’s members. The playing is deft and tight, accomplished without being overblown. The guitar solos and drum breaks are all in the right spots and not a moment too long or self-indulgent. It has to be admitted that they’ll never win any prizes for originality with this first offering and the backing vocals could use a little attention in places. But as a package, this is a bold and competent EP that makes a lot of the more ‘serious’ local, young metal bands look like ill-practiced poseurs with an axe to grind.