Review: “Original Plague” by Amanita Virosa

Returning for their sophomore album are Hospital Metallers Amanita Virosa, hailing from Finland. What’s Hospital Metal we hear your cry? It’s a Symphonic fusion of Black Metal and Death Metal. The follow up to 2015’s “Asystole” has been four years in the making, with some of these songs appearing in live shows at least a year ago. For those not in the know, the band name Amanita Virosa refers to “The Destroying Angel”, a deadly poisonous basidiomycete fungus…

Starting with 129 seconds of largely instrumental that has a big synth sound and is soaked in melody, including a big progressive lead part, “Prelude” is almost deceptive in the way it sets the tone for the album. It could be considered “I Walk Away” part #1 as it seamlessly sets up the opening track with hints of the roots of Mushroomhead in its stylings while also being laced with Black Metal that hints at Whitechapel being an influence. Yes, we’ve just mentioned Mushroomhead and Whitechapel in the same sentence. The first track proper is an anthem aimed squarely at those who take and don’t give anything back and it’s lyrically cutting. To make another styling comparison “My Enemy” has some Nekrogoblikon esq moments on it musically, without having the the comedic aspect in the vocals all lyrics. Instead that part is driven home by some Gholish Demonic growlings from frontman Clamors. The use of elongated leads add a brightness and depth of sound that is technically impressive and if they’d swapped out their vocalist for someone who only did cleans, you could see the band being out into the Power Metal category. The vocals are largely the heaviest part.

“Despair for the Living” features a brutally brilliant kit performance from Torsohaulcaust delivering a pace and energy that is reflected in the speed of a suite of guitar solos that are equally as impressive. The lyric video may be nearly a year old at this point, but the song doesn’t sound out of place on the album in any way shape or form, which is a tribute to an excellent Mixing and Mastering job. By the time “Weak, Strong & Wise” comes around, the stylings of the album are pretty much set in stone. Clamors makes good use of his vocal range by changing the pitch and tone of his uncleans to get more growl or more bark or more bite throughout the album but it’s most evident on this cut, which is soaked in blast beats and synths. Bringing more haunt and menace “Open Your Mouth” showcases the lyrical storytelling mastery in wanting to make someone suffer. The rhythm guitar work is often replaced by lead tones in true Black Metal style and while there are a couple of language issues in the vocal delivery it adds rather than taking away from the charm. Playing the role of a Demon, laughing at your pain there is a real sense of theatre and humour in this one. Switching into their native tongue for “Armias, Ole Huorani”, a tune which has some intriguing helter skelter synths while maintaining a Black Metal sense of Operatic grandeur is seriously impressive. This is the classical music side of Metal and could so easily be backed by a symphony orchestra!

There is a sea shanty esq rise and fall to the opening of “This Night” with some off kilter synths building into some climbing riffage as the song tells the story of the song title. The vocal delivery a bit more drawn out on this one with more work on the pronunciation and less on the styling, which maybe a subconscious thing but is totally effective. Galloping kit work and soaring synths usher in the first verse of “Hatred Becomes Entwined” which is another blast beat laiden affair that benefits from some howling at the Blackened full moon vocal lines of savage intent about becoming bitter and cold over time. There are a couple of glorious sweeping solos before a full throttle closing that features a music box like synth part that chills to the bone. “Longing” has a dark sense of melody underneath a metronomic introduction that capitalises on the skills of the musicians to perfection. There is a sense of the cinematic tension throughout and by the end of the song on an album that progressively improves from a very high starting point, there isn’t a reason not to push play and go again! Epic! [8/10]

Track listing

1. Prelude
2. I Walk Away
3. My Enemy
4. Despair Is For The Living
5. Weak, Strong & Wise
6. Open Your Mouth
7. Armias, Ole Huorani
8. This Night
9. Hatred Becomes Entwined
10. Longing

“Original Plague” by Amanita Virosa is out 23rd August via Inverse Records with pre-orders available here.

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