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Amulet

The Inevitable War

Review by Mike Korn

There is a virtual cottage industry devoted to recreating the musical sound and spirit of British heavy metal from the late 70s and early 80s. This was the super-prolific period of time known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Right now there are tons of newer bands trying to tap into that magical time.

I would say Amulet ranks as one of the best. On The Inevitable War, we get a very faithful exploration of NWOBHM song-craft. This is driving two-guitar metal that owes a lot to the mighty Iron Maiden (by far the biggest winners of the Brit-metal sweepstakes) and also to bands like Angel Witch, Blitzkrieg, Tokyo Blade and more. The powerful vocals of “Mace” Mazza owe a lot to Bruce Dickinson, and  Amulet's lyrical subject matter covers time-honored subjects like Greek mythology, supernatural deviltry and the English Civil War.

Lots of bands trying to mine the NWOBHM gold, but Amulet is more successful than most. This is highly recommended to fans of the era!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Satanist

An angry curse starts this chugging and hard charging tune. Right away Mazza’s Dickensonian tones grab your attention and they are put in the service of some cool catchy vocal lines.. This is a track that ebbs and flows, with some more laid back moments contrasting with the heavier bits. The sound is wonderfully clear and crisp, especially the drumming of Nick Ganesha. As you might gather from the title, the lyrics dabble with diabolical occultism.

Shock Waves

This cut kicks with a fast, driving gallop that isn’t really thrash or speed metal, yet you can see where those genres got inspiration in tunes like this. It almost reminds me of something off Metallica's Kill ‘em All album but mixed with a British sensibility.

Burning Hammer
A pulsing synth and a grooving bass ignite this cut. Not quite as fast as the first two tracks, this has more of a gritty chug like something from Saxon or even Accept. That synth pulse gives it a cool throbbing feel that underlies the whole cut. This is a song about warriors fighting in a cage in front of a blood thirsty crowd; the term “Burning Hammer” is a name for a wrestling finisher.
Call of the Siren
Spacy synth tones serve as an intro to this song, which really resembles one of Maiden's historical epics. In fact, with Mazza’s vocals, you’d have to be deaf not to hear the resemblance. There’s lots of hot lead soloing on this tale of Ulysses and his sailors encountering the deadly songs of the sirens, and this tune mixes up riff and time signatures a lot. I’m also reminded a bit of the great underrated US metal band Omen here, as well.
La Noche de la Gaviotas

The title is Spanish for “Night of the Seagulls," which tells you right away these guys are fans of the “Blind Dead” horror movies.  Surprisingly, it’s a melodic acoustic instrumental which sounds kind of upbeat considering the film is about zombie monks on the prowl. This is a pretty short interlude.

Siege Machine
Here’s another one with a very heavy Iron Maiden influence. The riffing is right out of the Steve Harris playbook and bounces with a lively kick. If Dickinson ever wound up on the outs with Maiden again, the band should call up “Mace” Mazza right away. He would fit their sound like a glove. Some sampled battle cries and noises add a lot of ambience. This is 100% British steel at its sharpest.
Gateway to Hell
Lots of noisy guitar squalls almost make you think that Venom is ready to take over the album. This fast, mean song does sound a bit like a cleaned up Venom, but also brings to mind less notorious NWOBHM bands like Cloven Hoof. This is simple, rocking metal with some shouted gang vocals.
Poison Chalice
This one lets up on the gas a bit and revolves around a chunky mid-paced riff that has a real medieval feel.  Again, there’s a lot of Maiden in this one, but instead of a half-a** knockoff, this stands right up with the masters themselves. There’s a nice speed up at the end that lifts the aggression faster and a strange bit at the absolute finish that is pure blues.
Roundhead
This is the album ending epic that splits into three smaller sections. This is Amulet at their most expansive, showing a strong prog influence and an almost cinematic touch.
1) Before The Battle
Warm and restrained synth mixes with the sounds of an army on the march, setting up a scene in the listener’s mind.
11) The Inevitable War
Here the metal kicks in and it marches with a very deliberate, military feeling to the riffing. Mazza’s excellent rich vocals tell the story of soldiers marching for Cromwell in the English Civil War. I absolutely love the melodic, soaring vocal lines here, and the guitar work has a strong Scots/Gaelic feel to it. This is metal that really sounds British.
111) The Protectorate
As the metal of the previous section fades out, we hear the sound of marching soldiers and horses as ambient synth and guitar chords slowly build to something relaxing. Wordless vocals repeat a simple tune as the song slowly fades into the distance.
 
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