It’s been awhile since Johan Liiva left ARCH ENEMY (or was he kicked out?). He started to enliven his persona as a Metal musician by forming NONEXIST and HEARSE, he proved he could stand on his own. Now that he doesn’t want to do the NONEXIST thing anymore, all his energy and efforts are focused at HEARSE.
“Dominion Reptilian” was a good dose of Melodic Garage/Punk Death Rock, “Armageddon Mon Amour” continues to keep me interested in Liiva and co as they clearly show signs of progression and productivity on their second platter. Some may have expected a more refined product, not with HEARSE. The album is heavier than its predecessor, the riffs and solos are all classic, plenty of both old school extremeness and Rock grooves but also lots of melodic scores.
The CD starts with three very good tracks of melodic yet hellish Death Rock with tons of whacky solos (“Turncoat” being my favourite of these, damn catchy melodies in there). “In Love And War” keeps the quality running high, simple and catchy as hell, AC/DC catchy!
It took me longer to appreciate this album because of tracks like “”Determination” and “Play Without Rules”, the latter has some pretty fucked keyboard effects, female vocals and a Hammond solo, you just never know with these crazy Swedes.
There are a couple of fillers on “Armageddon Mon Amour”. Don’t know why they start playing senseless Stoner Metal for a minute and a half (see “Ticket To Devastation”), doesn’t prove much to me. The short acoustic instrumental lets you clear your head for a minute, appreciated, but it definitely qualifies as filler material and God knows what they’re trying to accomplish by doing a cover of KIM WILDE’s “Cambodia”, it was never a good song in the first place.
The title track is by far the most controversial piece of music the band has written so far; a six-minute instrumental with various experimental features (experimental to a conservative band like HEARSE) such as female vocals, acoustic guitars, more weird keyboards, very different from the usual HEARSE catchiness I’m used to.
Liiva is an overrated vocalist; I still enjoy his vocals, he has a personal voice but he didn’t sound this wasted/out of shape in the past (ok he had problems on “Stigmata”), but it’s good to see him moving into new directions.
Try this one if you like the happy melodies of HELLOWEEN, the dirty sound of ENTOMBED and onslaught soloing of classic bands like IRON MAIDEN and MERCYFUL FATE! (Online August 7, 2004)