Amestigon- Thier

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Despite the fact that they have been around for almost as long as Abigor and Summoning and feature members that have been a part of those acts , Austrian black metal band Amestigon has never gained quite as much notoriety. A large part of this is likely because of how spread out their releases have been, as after several EP’s and splits in the mid to late 90s the group would remain silent until 2010’s Sun of All Suns full length. That particular album saw Amestigon broadening the scope of their sound significantly, and that style has been further pushed beyond its boundaries on this year’s Thier. Consisting of four tracks that all stretch past the ten minute mark, the songs emphasize sprawling instrumentation that merges haunting melodic layers with bursts of aggression in a way that is absolutely stunning.

Right from the beginning, Thier has a fairly different feel from the standard black metal record. Instead of kicking things off with a harsher blast or distortion, the instrumentation starts off with softer guitar melodies that have a more somber, eerie sound. With the exception of closing track “Hochpoloung” which is slightly more aggressive from the start, Amestigon tends to start things off at a minimal level and then build up the layers over the course of the song until they’re so dense that they’ve completely trapped the listener in an otherworldly haze. Each piece accomplishes this in a slightly different way, and the way that the band has stretched these arrangements out reminded me quite a bit of some of the more recent doom bands, though the overall vibe and tonality remains firmly rooted in black metal. At almost an hour in length, this album is quite a bit to take in and each song is an aural journey with plenty of twists and turns, but the instrumentalists have the writing skills to keep the material from falling into repetition. What’s continued to keep me coming back are the subtle nuances that are present, as a sinister more abrasive riff might give way to some atmospheric keyboards and other melodies that have an almost overwhelming presence. Amestigon’s branched beyond mere aggression and abrasiveness and achieved a thick, foreboding atmosphere that’s just as intense even when the distortion is dialed down, making this an album that leaves a very strong impression on the listener.

Tharen handles the majority of the vocal arrangements, but Silenius (Shining) takes over for the title track. Both have somewhat similar pitches, though there are enough nuances to make them distinguishable. As with the instrumentals, the vocals move between aggressive moments and softer ones and are able to provide more variation than is sometimes typical for this genre. Higher shrieks and screams are mixed with singing that comes off more like a chant at times, and the recording has been mixed in a way that gives additional emphasis to the performance. It’s an approach that works extremely well for Amestigon, as Tharen and Silenius’ harsher ranges cut through your speakers with razorlike precision before giving way to softer singing/chanting that hovers over the instrumentals and mixes in with the layers of sound.

Some of the longer running black metal bands have been content to stick with the same general sound over the past two decades, adding subtle tweaks to their formula here and there. But Amestigon has gone through a full evolution, moving beyond the traditional framework and into a more spaced out and mystical direction. In the process of doing so they’ve still managed to maintain much of the intensity and rough edges that made their earlier recordings appealing, but there’s now even more depth for listeners to take in as they make their way through. In the five years that have passed between Sun of All Suns and Thier, it feels as though Amestigon has pushed themselves further than ever before and the wait has certainly been worth it.

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