01. Showdown
02. Lacrimal Gland
03. Decrowning
04. Tiebreaker
05. Drug of Choice
06. Denial 101
07. Control Cancer
08. Raptus
09. Warp
10. Bleeder

RATING: 7/10

Ratings are tricky little buggers, and in a perfect world, we'd probably just ditch the damn things. But I don't think anyone's ever used "perfect" in the same sentence as this place, so the number persists. What does a 7 mean? Is it a thoroughly enjoyable record that you should purchase, from a band who'll never set the world on fire with originality? Is it a stumble from a classic act, destined to be a dark horse in their catalog? Is it an album the reviewer listened to dozens of times, felt nothing either way about, and decided to cop out with a quick pass?

All three have reared their ugly head here, of course. But in the case of Finland's AMORAL, we're gonna have to put their second record firmly in the first category. They're part of a newer generation of Scandinavian acts, picking up the scent of trails long since abandoned by their forefathers (IN FLAMES, SOILWORK, et al). At this point in metal, it'd probably be against the law for them not to have some Swedish thrash influence, a little smidgen of MESHUGGAH machine stomp, and harsh vocals.

But is there a reason not to have more of that melodic, but still brutal, Swedish death, done in the style of a previous generation? Especially since that generation has almost universally moved on from the sounds of their roots? It'd be a different, sadder story if AMORAL didn't hand over fistfuls of tight, intense riffing at every turn, or if their vocals weren't exactly of that sandblasted pitch that incites mass moshing, or if their beats didn't inspire frenzied air-drumming and simulated double-kick with hands on the nearest tabletop.

As seems to be the norm with albums like this, the "rockin' if unoriginal" class, the opening song is a salvo that'll knock any discerning metal fan in the dirt. It's the sort of thing that keeps you hanging on through lesser tracks like "Lacrimal Gland", nodding your head half-heartedly, waiting for some more of the ass-kickery of the first few minutes. Lucky for us, AMORAL deliver plenty of those moments throughout "Decrowning" — just check out that title track for some killer blasts, a nice melodic guitar hook, and a middle section that could incite riots.

AMORAL are the sort of band who suffer most in this downloading age — if you give this a quick and cursory listen, you're going to think "been here, heard that" and delete it. But buy it so you're stuck with it, maybe throw it in your car so you have to listen to it a few times, and it's gonna seriously start to grow on you. Like I said, "Decrowning" brings absolutely nothing new to the table, but who cares? You'll be too busy thanking them for kicking your ass to notice.

A solid and respectable 7 for the rest of the world; add 1.5 points if you're one of those people crying because your favorite '90s bands have "gone pop" on you.


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