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Greetings! My name is Matthew, and I love to listen to all types of metal. I'm a high school English teacher and aspiring writer. I also write reviews for the Metal Utopia webzine!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Amos - "Jade" Review

     After a considerable hiatus, the Brazilian metal band Amos is back with their unique brand of uplifting Gothic metal.  Jade is an album that was recorded around 2009 as the band's third full-length record, but since Amos broke up, it was put on the shelves to gather dust.  With the reformation of the band, fans get a chance to listen to the album that they never knew existed.  Jade is a powerful Gothic metal album that evokes strong images of stirring hope amidst despair, fear, and loss.  It's arguably their strongest material to date, perhaps even pushing out A Matter of Time due to its focused and thematic songwriting.
     Amos doesn't hold back any punches, but bursts out of the gate like an enraged bull surging towards the matador.  "Still Believe" has a comforting Paradise Lost One Second-era vibe to it, and the chorus will percolate into the back of your mind and stay there.  "Devotion" emphasizes the band's strong roots of faith and melodious, creative guitar playing.  Amos also features the bass guitar on this song, setting up and then accentuating the pervading rhythm.  Bravo!
     "Called From the Dark" could easily be a B-side from A Matter of Time, but the throwback also hints at the complex range of singer Rodrigo Shimabukuro.  His deep baritone is an expansive well drinking in water.  Then, just when the listener thinks that they've found the groove of the song, "Called From the Dark" breaks into a heavy metal onslaught that sounds like it belongs on a Maiden record.  "Stranger Loves" dips deeply into the band's Gothic roots, as Shimabukuro slurs the vocals to create an almost melancholic, moody vibe.
     If keyboards are your jam, then "Lost Essence" will be a song that you want to check out.  The breakdown almost two minutes in, framed by the keys, is perfect.  The symphonic outro to the song conjures up the blissful image of a maiden resting beneath the shade of a forest canopy; a waterfall nearby thunders and swirls into eddies, which gradually make their way into into the gently running rivulets of a murmuring brook. 
     "Surrender" begins with an atmospheric guitar lick and then segues into a sorrowful song reminiscing about love.  Shimabukuro shows impressive range with his pipes as he transitions into an almost falsetto chorus, and the shredding guitar solo makes this a standout track on Jade. While a lot of bands lose steam at the halfway point, Amos proves that they are seasoned musicians.
     "Infinite" is a heartfelt ballad that wouldn't seem out of place on a Red record.  The keys are featured heavily on this track, and it's a respite from the angry surging of the guitars.  The title track "Jade" is an intriguing song from both a musical and a lyrical standpoint.  As the child in the song hides from the dark angel, her struggle can be felt in the swirling keys, which is juxtaposed against darker, more sober elements in the song.
     The last two songs on Jade are pure adrenaline.  Channeling their inner musical guides, Amos gives us "Prodigal Girl," which is chock full of pounding drums and aggressive guitar licks.  As the closer "Wait for You" begins with a gritty and memorable guitar riff, I had to double check and make sure that I wasn't listening to To Hell With the Devil.  The chorus on "Wait for You" is old school rock 'n' roll framed by teenage angst. 
     Jade is surprisingly good.  In fact, after listening to the record almost a dozen times, it was difficult as a critic to find any discernible weakness.  There's nothing that can be labelled as filler, and while the production quality on the symphonic parts is a bit thin in places, it doesn't detract from the overall atmosphere of the record.  I only hope that the album gets the credit and audience that it deserves.  Jade is a heartfelt Gothic monolith mixed with elements of heavy metal that will stand that test of time in Brazilian metal for years to come.

Rating:  4.5/5.0

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