Germany’s Amber combine great chops with cascading emotion on ‘Lovesaken’

It would seem playing heavy metal and hardcore music without a ton of passion and energy would be impossible to do, yet bands seem to pull that feat off more and more every year, which is another reason it’s tougher to snag gems out of a pile of shit.

Yet, when a band hits on a moment, when they truly channel their energy and translate that to their art, something special can happen and can help that band transcend. Actually, showing genuine passion for one’s work can make rudimentary, rote songwriting seem not as glaring. See: As I Lay Dying. Yet when a band combines really strong songwriting along with leaving their heaving bleeding hearts on the stage or studio floor, you know you have something that’s bound to be around for a while and make special art well into the future.

amber coverIt’s clear even from a cursory listen to Amber’s new full-length “Lovesaken” that something is different about them compared to the tons of other young bands dotting the worldwide metal scene who are hoping to make connections with their listeners. The German band has been so well regarded since their initial release that three labels have a hand in putting out the band’s latest platter (Halo of Flies, Protagonist, and Narshadaa), so clearly a lot of people believe in them. If you sit down with this five-track, 35-minute album, chances are you’re going to be convinced to climb mountaintops for them as well. They just feel genuine and alive, and combined with songs that have oceans full of substance, you’re taking on a band that sounds like it is onto something special.

Simply calling Amber metal is lazy, but I’m using it as a generic term. Obviously the genre is made up of so many different sounds that using the term is more a touch point to bring all lines of thinking together, and describing this band takes more than one word to get it right. The five-headed band comprised of guitarists Christian and Dennis, bassist Tobias, drummer Jakob, and powerhouse vocalist Anna could probably be most accurately described as post-hardcore, but there is some shoegaze, some power, some doom, some blackness mixed in as well. All of the elements mix quite effectively, and Amber get in and get out, make their point, and leave you wanting more. Really, what more can you ask from a band?

Most of the tracks are about six minutes long, not including the finale, and things get started with “Kings Like Us,” a song that opens with feedback squall, pulverizing melodies, and Anna’s awesome, powerful vocals that can rip a hole right in your chest and go for your heart. And not in the loving, caring way. The music is fluid and exciting, and the song has a volcanic finish that feels satisfying and cathartic. “Lost” has a slow, eerie beginning before it emotionally caterwauls and overwhelms you with volume and panic. Anna pushes her throat and vocal cords to their limits, really going for it, and it also finds ways to hit a fevered pitch before finally subsiding. “Silent Lies” can be drubbing and ugly at times, but it also soars at others, finding a strange common ground between uplifting and punishing.

“Fading Away” pulls back the reins a bit, staying at a middle tempo for the bulk of the song musically and incorporating some cleaner, gentler tones. That doesn’t go for Anna, who once again topples planet earth with her devastating, anguishes vocals that sound like she’s at the tip of some sort of psychological bloodletting. She sells this song so well, you cannot but help but live vicariously through her pain. The closing title track runs 10:25, and it continues some of the musical themes of “Fading Away,” staying softer and more reflective at times, but also lets lava flow as well. Anna’s expression should get to you emotionally, unless you’re dead at heart, and the band lets the song boil over before finally letting go and slipping off into space. It’s a fantastic final epic that’s a summary of what the band does well now and shows promise for even bigger things in the future.

Amber is a great young band that is yet another fantastic find for Halo if Flies, who we’re getting damn near ready to blindly follow anywhere. Their gift for expression and genuine humanity is something not all bands are able to do, and the fact that they put great songwriting behind their emotion is icing on the cake. “Lovesaken” is a strong statement from a band who very well could dominate in the future.

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