Amplified Memory – Vas Hermeticum
From the Bavarian capital come this sextet of progressive melodic death metal called Amplified Memory. Together since 2008 and with a live presence in most of southern and central Germany, they’ve just released their sophomore album “Vas Hermeticum” through Sliptrick Records, and it’s a good one! With many guest spots in different instruments and additional voices, this album packs in 10 songs a lot of interesting riffs and melodies, coupled with a strong concept based on the philosophical nature of dreams and reality, going through subjects such as hallucinations, near-death experiences and sleeping states.
The opening track, ‘Corridor’, reminds of 1980s sci-fi soundtracks and builds up the tension into ‘Maze of Gyri’, which is when we see what this band can do in terms of songwriting. I hadn’t heard such a satisfying 7/8 intro riff since Opeth’s ‘Deliverance’ and this one is a brat way to formally kick off the album. Simon Bodesheim on the keyboard adds some flashy synth hits here and there, and Wolfgang Paulini’s harsh voice fits perfectly with the song and overall sound of the band. There are many interesting moments in this 3-minute long song, which says a lot. Next up is ‘A Walk on the Crystalline Path’, which has a more melodic start and features guest saxophone by Simon Stusak. This song shows the dynamic range the band can accomplish, with Simon on the keys providing an eerie atmosphere, and excellent guitar work by Christoph Lamprecht and Eley Ellmer. Simon Stusak’s saxophone solo also adds to the eerie atmosphere, with nothing but soundscapes on the keys as background. By the song’s conclusion there’s a classic melodic death metal start-and-stop riff and while Wolfgang’s harsh singing is great, I found myself wishing it would’ve been a deeper growl.
‘Soporific’, which refers to something that induces drowsiness or sleep, is an interesting name for the next track because it couldn’t be further from that. It’s a more conventional melodic death song, with a nice interlude with Benedikt Holnaicher on the viola and Florinda Hoffmann on the cello. Both make additional guest appearances on the album. There’s even a blink-and-you-miss-it nice bass spot almost at the very end of the song, which Michael Bichler-Thal plays wonderfully.
The only promotional song for the record, so far, is ‘Ammon’s Eclipse’, which is also the odd one out, with guest clean singing by Isabella Niedermeier. A bit gloomier than the rest of the songs I’ve heard so far, this could be the band’s ballad. Both Benedikt and Florinda play in this one as well, and we don’t go heavy until a third of the song is already gone, and go back to the melancholic clean tones and singing almost right away. It’s an interesting choice to release this song as the promotional one. I had heard it a while back and it didn’t really catch my interest. That being said, it’s very well written and arranged and has some of the best guitar melodies on the album, and one of the wildest blastbeats I’ve heard in a long while, courtesy of Felix Indra, taking me by surprise. Simon’s piano solo right before the song’s conclusion is very emotive, and then the song ends with a fast-paced section that fits more with the rest of the album.
For the next song, ‘Multipolar’, there’s a very interesting play with dynamics and Emanuel Enki as a guest singer on clean and additional harsh vocals. This is the song that goes into prog the most, with an eerie glitchy interlude and then an almost funeral-like piano solo on top, and then the full band comes back in with an almost power metal kind of riff. Contrary to ‘Soporific’, this one stays true to its name, being very diverse and ‘Multipolar’. The rest of the songs in the album, although not thoroughly reviewed here, also have very interesting compositions, such as the tragic viola and cello in ‘Into the Shelter of a Mind’ and a black-metal-influenced boogie with a piano solo on top in ‘End of Transference’.
Out on Sliptrick Records since Oct. 20, 2017, “Vas Hermeticum” is a great sophomore effort from Amplified Memory, with plenty of melodies and very interesting compositions all throughout. A worthy item for collectors who value and enjoy, for lack of a more concise term, “weird shit”.
- Maze of Gyri
- A Walk on the Crystalline Path
- The Aether Apparatus
- End of Transference
- Ammon’s Eclipse
- Into the Shelter of a Mind