Finnish ‘hospital metal’ band Amanita Virosa take their name from a poisonous fungus also known as ‘the destroying angel’. 4 years on from their debut Asystole, they bring us their sophomore album Original Plague.
Perhaps contrary to what one might expect it to be, ‘hospital metal’ appears to be a mixture of black and death metal, evident in the heavy rhythm section and evil-sounding growled vocals, but with the added feature of heavy keyboard usage, which really sets them apart from their contemporaries in the blackened death metal umbrella. For example, ‘Despair Is For The Living’ opens with a black metal-esque melody, but played on keyboard instead of a guitar as would be traditional to the genre.
The opening track ‘Prelude’ features some low inhuman, demonic sounding vocals and some keyboard melodies in a traditional piano sound. Setting the tone for the rest of the album to come with its contrasting dynamic of heavy vocals and melodic keys. In fact, all songs make heavy use of keyboards with intricate and often sinister sounding melodies, giving this album a symphonic and gothic edge. Big use of keyboards seems to be somewhat of a speciality for Finnish metal bands – with fellow Finns Children of Bodom, Sonata Arctica and Amorphis also being a part of the melodic keyboard-driven club.
The combination of melodic guitar and keyboard lines on Original Plague give a rousing effect akin to power metal at times, however, a darker tone is prevalent throughout. Although the songs are consistently good, ‘This Night’ deserves a special mention as a particularly memorable track. It has a very sinister and enchanting melody, which doesn’t quite go where you expect it to, rising and falling with a disorientating dreamlike effect. Another notable moment is ‘Armias, Ole Huorani’ (like on Asystole, Original Plague also features one song sung in Finnish), which has some nice choral backing to enhance the sinister gothic mood.
Overall Original Plague is a thoroughly enjoyable listen and is perfect for those who don’t want to choose between heavy or melodic; Amanita Virosa shows them they can have their cake and eat it too.
Would recommend for fans of: Dimmu Borgir, Amorphis, Children of Bodom, Emperor, Belzebubs, Gloomy Grim, early Theatre of Tragedy