Amsvartner - _Dreams_
(Blackened, 1999)
by: Paul Schwarz (8.5 out of 10)
Amsvartner have hit a vein of gold with their debut album: it is musically relatively original and the writing and playing is also of high quality. _Dreams_ is a challenge to adequately describe, but I like a challenge and music which is interesting to listen to -is- often challenging to describe. An influence which is distinct in this material is the melody-infused riffing style which goes back to such bands as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest in heavy metal. However, this is not some heavy metal rehash release (the fact that it isn't is exactly what makes the above noted stylistic factors so endearing). It is an album rooted in the more melodic death/black metal tradition but is not one of the many derivative releases which emerge in these styles seemingly every minute. Amsvartner additionally combine some funk-styled jazzy bass/rhythm section work which is blended into parts of _Dreams_ well, something I doubted was possible if you weren't Cynic. The vocal delivery of Marcus Johansson is powerful and distorted, but understandable and emotion-filled. With a number of different vocal styles used throughout the album and sometimes layered, it is not only the music which is worthy of note. I have not described all that comprises _Dreams_, but these are the main factors. It is not a perfect album and each song does not individually brand itself in your head from the first, nor is everything Amsvartner do to my liking, but _Dreams_ is an excellent debut record and absolutely worthy of your attention.

(article published 7/7/1999)

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