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Frantic Amber - Burning Insight

Frantic Amber - CD Review
Burning Insight

Frantic Amber


CD Info
Self Released
English lyrics
11 tracks


There are those days when I want nothing more than to be entertained by soothing melodic sounds highlighted by a trained soprano. I prefer the message to be of the darker variety, but I want beauty; vocals from a queen, choral elements raised to the heavens, all provided over a soaring symphonic. Of course, there’s got to be a little metal in there too, but it can be contained, it can be ordered, it can be sublimated. Ahh, those are truly times to soothe the savage beast.

On other days, I want the fookin’ beast turned loose. I want to hear the dogs howl, I want to be overwhelmed in sound, break out the guns, turn loose the monsters of our deepest fears, make the buildings tremble, hide the women and children, let the demons prowl. And, on those days, music like this seems to fit the bill. I asked the band to describe their music and got this response, “We play melodic death metal with a wide range of influences and inspirations. As long as we have our signature heavy riffs and melodic parts we gladly experiment with other elements such as speed, dynamics, progressiveness and rhythm.”

Frantic Amber is a different breed of cat from what we often get on this site. Not completely, of course, I do revel in the sounds of Cadaveria, I listen regularly to Death metal sounds from both East and Western Europe. But, we don’t cover them a lot here. This is a sound that just has to be discussed. Frantic Amber hails from Sweden, but is comprised of members from four different countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Japan). Kind of an international cast of screaming metalers. Again, the band commented on this divergence of geographical talent, “That we were all living in Stockholm at the time of Frantic Amber beginning was mostly a happy coincidence. We happened to find each other through our shared passion for music and desire to be playing live. Elizabeth now lives in Denmark and the rest reside in Stockholm.”

The focus of this chorus of the damed is Elizabeth Andrews, lead vocalist and Mistress of Devastation. Her sound is pretty much captured in the videos associated with this release, we left Mozart behind a long time ago. Ms. Andrews goes hard, she screams, she howls, she takes the sound of death to a more personal level. There’s damn little beauty here, there’s little hope for redemption. We’ve crossed the Rubicon and are met on the other side. But there’s damn sure some solid metal to back up those thundering vocals. Andrews screams are accompanied by a solid cast of metal musicians. There’s a double shot of killer guitar; Mio Jäger hammers out a lead from the darkest regions of hell; that lead is backed by the steely glimmer of Mary Säfstrand’s rhythm. It pounds like the Black Watch on the parade ground before battle. A thundering bass is provided by Madeleine Gullberg Husberg while drums, provided by Mac Dalmanner, pound out a sound to make the Battle of Verdun a Sunday school picnic by comparison.

Music of this kind probably won’t reach your local radio station, especially in the good ol US of A where the Beiber reigns supreme and rap and country western control the air ways. Probably why I haven’t listened to an American radio outlet in several decades. So, you wanna hear it, get your check book or credit card ready, download sites are available as is the physical CD. . .which provides pictures of some relatively interesting looking metal musicians of the dark Gothic persuasion.

So, let’s look a little closer at the music, let’s talk about what’s going on here, preferably at a very high decibel level. Interestingly enough, the first track is a customary classical Gothic intro, keyboard based, almost sounds like what we’d hear from a more traditional Gothic band. Ahh, don’t be fooled, only lasts about a minute, and then all hell breaks loose. Burning Insight realigns your reality to what’s in store for you. Andrews breaks out the heavy artillery and the girls on their axes take us on a one way trip to the eternal. The drums pound out a sound that can only be registered on the Richter scale. And, good as the music is, the visual is even better. Andrews is nothing short of ethereal and the sound originating from that tender looking lass belies anything the visual can suggest.

Bleeding Sanity makes sure we realize the preceding track wasn’t a mistake. Hell is on the doorstep, our mortal concerns have taken a back seat to the actual devastation that reality has presented to us. The guitars blend us to a vision of violence we may not have understood previously. And the following track, Soar, only heightens this vision of mayhem. The guitars again take us to regions of metal we have rarely experienced. With this one, however, the drums seem to take the lead in taking us over the cliff, at least until the end when a keyboard based cacophony of damnation slows down the beat of expectancy and leads to a guitar based call to eternity.

Well, it’s pretty clear that there’s enough video from this release to make that the focus for the most part. This is definitely a visual band, no matter how good the music is. And, they seem to get unlimited opportunities to perform. They’ve done a lot of work in Russia, even more in Northern Europe, appearing in multiple forums in Sweden and close by regions. And, their videos provide a pretty good demonstration as to why this is the case. Wrath of Judgement is another track that makes sure we realize this isn’t Country Western. Good as this music is, I can’t begin to imagine how good this band would be in live performance. The physical level of violence on the part of the musicians, to say nothing of the vocalist, is on another level.

I would be remiss not to comment on the lyrics. The band suggests they come from a variety of locations, “Elizabeth writes the lyrics which form themselves from many different elements. She writes about experiences, feeling a certain way, issues of the world, fictional stories etc. The main denominator is to get the listener to feel something from the lyrics and that they should speak to the audience so that they can identify with the themes.” They often seem to mirror the violence we observe in the videos, the anger we hear in the music. And that’s clearly a part of the Frantic Amber personae. Drained is another rocker, but with some twists. Lyrically, we get the hard edged thoughts that drive this release:

Let me die / My soul is yours to take
Let me die / She's my doom
Let me die / She will become my savior
Let me die / Destroy me

I look in the face of Death / Feeling my heart beat
I see the light / To end my pain
I stumble away / Cringe at her stare
Imagine immortality / Don't you ever wonder?

But, with this one we get some clean vocals, and they come as a surprise. The girl has a great voice, for a little while. That clean vocal appears with the following track Awakening as well and, in both instances, the effect is more than a little entertaining. However, in each case, the screams return and all is again right with the world.

The signature sound on this release seems to be the final track, Ghost. Andrews takes a walk on the dark side here, screaming her soul to the heavens:

Once upon a time I died / Just to feel something
Once upon a time I died / All there's left is the cruelty
of immortality

You take a look / I am not there
Roaming this earth like a ghost / Left for dead
On this path of self-destruction / Something sinister awakes

I block out the sun / Hate, anger suffocation
I, I have no name / Darkness, despair, desperation

This is a first full release for the band after several less complete products. But, given the interest their videos have been receiving for some time now, and the interest in live performances, it’s relatively clear that this is a name to be reckoned with. One can only hope they expand the range of their live performances, it’s the only way to expand the excellence of an already solid musical entity.