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Album Review: Amoral – Beneath

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Finnish metal band Amoral brought in vocalist Ari Koivunen for 2009’s Show Your Colors, an album that sounded like it desperately wanted to be a less weighty Dream Theater. In doses, Beneath (which hit European shelves a year before its stateside release) could definitely be considered crushingly heavier than its predecessor, while still retaining some semblance of the long-gone ’80s. In other words, here we go, again.

One can’t lambast an entire collective for the faults or pipe dreams of its frontman; if it were that easy, Wes Borland couldn’t even get a job at McDonald’s. With the noticeable lack of since-departed guitarist Silver Ots and founding vocalist Niko Kalliojärvi, Amoral’s latest incarnation continues an evolution that contrasts boldly against  past albums like 2005’s brutality-laden Decrowning. The closest these Finns have gotten to keeping with the tradition are the minor bursts of growling from Koivunen at Beneath‘s opening titular track, and a double-trouble melodic guitar team of Ben Varon and Masi Hukari –all the while, their current sound feels a little less like authentic metal biker garb, a little more pleather and depression.

Founding Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo once mused that there was a fine line between progressing as a band, and mutating to some unrecognizable form for the sake of staying relevant. One can always make subtle tweaks, improve stage presence or production quality, try new approaches (“Wrapped In Barbed Wire”), but there’s an eventual point of no return that reeks of parody or insincerity (“Closure”) to an insulting degree. Show Your Colors demonstrated such accursed practices to a ‘T’, and though Beneath tries belonging to two worlds at once by backpedaling a scoche, you can’t switch singers and expect him to literally duplicate the previous one on command.

Essential Tracks: “Closure”, “Beneath”

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