AMARAN most probably are the only band from Listenable so far, which I really like. As the French label normally is more into the heavier regions of Metal, the Swedish quintet is the big exception as they for one use female vocals and for the other musically form a mix from Heavy and Power Metal and even some Thrash Metal, a sound that you do not get often and even less so in such a quality as in the case of "Pristine In Bondage", the second album of this band, which had been founded in 2000.
Since their debut AMARAN had to go through a line-up change, after bassist Mikael Andersson left the band for personal reasons, he got replaced by the band's long time friend Ronnie Bergstål. How much impact this had on the song writing, I do not know, but compared to "A World Depraved", which already had been damn good, AMARAN without a doubt have topped it with "Pristine In Bondage". This starts with the great production from Studio Underground, continues with the very good and interesting and absolutely unclichéd vocals of front lady Johanna DePierre down to the just simply brilliant guitar work of the duo Kari Kainulainen and Ronnie Backlund, who present us with fat riffing, but then again great, intricate and melodic leads, which alternately sever your head and then sow it back on. And they are miles away from all the LACUNA COILs, NIGHTWISHs and the likes, because musically they are a good bit heavier and more complex than these bands, but without overdoing it.
Opener "Atropine" unites basically all of the above on the highest level and can fully convince, great start, and "Revolution Without Arms" thunders through driven by double-bass, as if you had taken a passage from the ARCH ENEMY corner, together with Johanna's powerful vocals this is damn good! Don't, fear the guys don't copy at all, it's just damn tight and technical in a way that the Amott brothers would have been proud of. And they also have a female vocalist, but this comparison we better let fall again right away!
And if these two songs were not good enough, we get the next grenade with "Coming Home", super heavy, super melodious, demanding, but still very catchy, with a strong chorus, three songs so far, three killers, if they can keep this up…Hell yeah, "Without Stains" is an incredible song, driving, with most precise riffing and solos, a ton of variety, a killer chorus, ouf… "Katharsis" then for the first time brings us a few Death Metal vocals, too, which fit very well and form a good contrast to Johanna.
Before I start to talk about every track, let's just say that AMARAN have topped off their already strong debut "A World Depraved", supported by the clear and powerful production the guitar duo Kainulainen/Backlund comes close to God and does not have to fear the competition of any guitar combo, additionally Johanna is not one of the numerous opera singers, who try their luck in Metal, but convinces with a powerful and also a bit deeper voice, which fits the crunchy music of the Swedes very well.
So if you could imagine heavy and sharp riffing and female, non-operatic, vocals, everything in best quality - get this one! (Online February 7, 2004)