Amplified Memory – Vas Hermeticum Release Date: 20th October 2017
Label: Sliptrick Records
Amplified Memory are a six piece melodic death metal group based in Munich Germany who have been together with a number of lineup changes for nine years. Vas hermeticum is their second album released on Sliptrick records. The Vas Hermeticum is a sealed glass container, particularly prevalent in the symbolism of Jungian analysis, in which transformative processes and a fluidity of identity can be observed. The band acknowledge their interest in exploring ‘hallucinations, near death experiences and oneiric states’ on the album and Vas Hermeticum provides a smorgasbord of influences all held together by a discernible melodeath sensibility; a sonic attempt to replicate the observation of consciousness and altered states. The one thing that remains almost constant throughout is the vocal style, which is clearly rooted in Death Metal elocution.
The ten track album begins with Corridor which functions as a prelude, opening up with an organ, generating an ethereal dreamlike effect. This is accompanied by an Arabic sounding keyboard part and the slight bubble of water in the background. This is a bold start for a Death Metal band, the track goes for a full 2 minutes before there is the slightest hint of guitar and drums. It sets the tone for the range of the subsequent songs which are ambitious large scale undertakings often clocking in at over 6 minutes. Second track Maze of Gyri is initially delivered in a more recognisably metal register. A little later there is the introduction of what sounds like a marimba set over some tribal drumbeats, lending the slight air of Sepultura to the mix.
A walk on the Crystalline Path further mines this experimental seam as a relatively standard classic metal song segues into an extended saxophone part. This harks back to the opening tracks wistful sensibilities. The technique of interspersing more conventional metal tropes with breakdowns that sound almost like completely different pieces of music is returned to in Soporific. Here the addition of flute and strings, create an orchestral feel. Elsewhere in the song a much softer guitar part contrasts well with the heavy vocals. Ammon’s Eclipse is another song demonstrative of the prog influences of the band. It is a sprawling number replete with strings and piano sections. The song also includes a clean vocal contribution from a female singer. The whole song is relatively slow and did feel a bit like a series of intros, however there is an official live video which does give more of a sense of flow to the song.
The band aren’t solely trading in unusual instrumentation though. There are shades of Dream Theater and Dragonforce to tracks such as Aether Apparatus and Non-Constuct, which are infused with a soaring stadium metal sound. Though the latter does boast an intro that draws on jazz.
Vas Hermeticum is a highly ambitious album and the band aren’t afraid to go out on a limb with songs determined to avoid sounding formulaic. For the most part this works pretty well. There were a couple of moments when I found myself wondering how long it would be before a track would return to the riff and get on with it. However given that the album is essentially a concept album about dreams and the psyche, it holds together well and is structured enough to retain the listeners interest whilst managing to surprise along the way.
Recommended track: Maze of Gyri