Published Oct 18, 2014Amulet's 2011 Cut the Crap demo was intriguing, featuring "old school" classic metal with a black magic obsession. You know the kind: infused with '70s hard rock and the NWOBHM, and made by a four-piece London band that was clearly young and hungry. The vocals were unique, featuring an oddly strained yet clean intonation that was unusual but excellently suited to the music, which was comparable to Witchfynde, but had its own sound and charm.
Three years, a few line-up changes and a major label signing later, Amulet's full-length debut The First is primed for release. Spanning 13 tracks, the album expands on the promising demo, opening with the driving "Evil Cathedral." Each instrument is captured excellently using dry production that works with the squealing riffs and simple, snare-heavy percussion.
The songs are short and sweet. Side A closes with "The Flight," a menacing yet somewhat spacey high-pitched organ ditty. Side B opens with the instrumental, pure rock n' roll track "Talisman," which segues into six more tracks similar to Side A. "The Sacrifice" slips somewhat given its plodding tempo, but follower "Mark of Evil" recaptures the lost urgency, which remains until the closer "Nightmare." Altogether, the 42 minutes are strong, and the album only suffers from a lack of differentiation.
The First is an excellent full-length debut, albeit one that seems oddly placed on the Century Media roster. Clearly, traditional metal, which has exploded in volume and popularity in Canada and beyond, is being noticed by the bigger labels, and in the case of Amulet, it seems said label wisely left the band to their own apt, classic metal-worshipping devices. (Century Media)