Aside from being a metalhead (obviously), yours truly also happens to be a nurse. That being said, I must admit the term “Hospital Metal” immediately tickled my fancy, so I had to investigate this unique breed of Metal further. What I found is that Hospital Metal is somewhere in the grey area between Black and Death Metal, with some significant Symphonic elements as a bonus. The Finnish band borrows its name – Amanita Virosa – from an infamous poisonous mushroom nicknamed “The Destroying Angel”, which can definitely land you in the hospital if you are unlucky enough.
Their sophomore album “Original Plague” – the follow-up for 2015’s “Asystole” – releases the 23rd of August, and we at Tuonela Magazine are here to give you a sneak peek of what to expect.
If you have been a fan since “Asystole”, it is possible that you have already picked up some of the songs on this release in a live show or two. The songs do work incredibly well individually, and especially “Despair Is For The Living” (which has been out in the world since last year) has been a great example of what AMANITA VIROSA is capable of, musically and production-wise. That being said, this song is not out of place on the record as a whole, since it keeps its consistency and coherency throughout the listening experience, without falling into the trap of becoming repetitive.
“Prelude” – the intro – in retrospect does not quite forebode what the listener is in for, and as a result, the upcoming songs hit twice as hard! If not for the raw vocals, you could mistake this for a Power Metal opening. “I Walk Away” is a middle finger raised to all the selfish people in this world, hitting the listener like a tidal wave. If you were not yet convinced as to what you are in for, “My Enemy” continues to set the tone with some brutal yet at the same time infectiously melodic riffs. Next up is a personal favourite “Despair Is For The Living”, especially due to the insane guitar solos accompanied by some kick-ass, explosive drum work by Torsoholocaust.
“Weak, Strong & Wise” shows off that the band also knows how to comfortably juggle tempos. The faster sections are packed with blast beats, and the slower sections showcase a style that hints strongly towards Melodic Death Metal. “Open Your Mouth” starts off very melodically as well, with eerie keyboards by Cantor Satana, and is a lyrical ode to human suffering. I even found some rather humorous lines in this one, which shows the band’s ability to play with different emotions in one song. The only Finnish song on the album, eloquently titled “Armias, Ole Huorani” (“Army, be my whore”), makes me wish AMANITA VIROSA would do more songs in their native language. It works so well with the band’s sound, and to me adds onto the uneasy, mysterious yet contagious (pun intended, of course) musicality.
Clamors truly shines vocally in “This Night”, along with the accompanying Black Metalesque keyboards and ascending/descending riffs. “Hatred Becomes Entwined” is another rather Symphonic piece which I can totally imagine being accompanied by an orchestra, with the music box lullaby as a nice, haunting touch at the end. “Longing” asks a lot of excellent musicianship from the band, again offering some majestic guitar/bass work by Kingcohol, Mernik13, and Robustuz. I especially dig the melodic ending riff.
In short, AMANITA VIROSA not only delivers the sinister grandeur of Black Metal, but also manages to keep an interesting variety of Melodic Death and Symphonic Metal aspects coming, to keep the listener wondering where the record will go next. Clamors‘ vocals range from haunting to downright demonic; they are really what gives it all another dimension. Lyrically, this album is definitely not about being pampered by smiling nurses in a comfy hospital bed, but offers dark themes such as suffering and insanity, which make the sound fit like a (rubber) glove.
If you compare the band’s journey from “Asystole” to where they are now, it is apparent that during the four years it took to create this album, the band has willingly seized every opportunity they could to help them grow and refine their sound. The result is as impressive as it is promising for the future. The fact that I find it hard to compare AMANITA VIROSA to any other bands, I see as a positive plus. Oh, and one more thing, as a nurse, I hereby conclude my diagnosis: this record is SICK! 😀
(Disclaimer: I am allowed to make as many hospital puns as I want, it comes with the degree. 😉 )
2. I Walk Away
3. My Enemy
4. Despair Is For The Living
5. Weak, Strong & Wise
6. Open Your Mouth
7. Armias, Ole Huorani
8. This Night
9. Hatred Becomes Entwined
Clamors – Vocals, lyrics
Melnik13 – Guitar, backing vocals, lyrics
Kingcohol – Lead guitar, backing vocals
Robustuz – Bass
Torsoholocaust – Drums
Cantor Satana – Keyboards