Videoclip of the Month!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Amia Venera Landscape - The Long Procession

Amia Venera Landscape - The Long Procession

Throughout history, people have been using music to describe beauty. There are some who do it better than others, and there the others who don’t do it as well as their betters. There are no words in the English vocabulary which fully illustrate the magnificence of The Long Procession, which makes reviewing this album trickier than any school exam or assignment I’ve ever had to do. Just the thought of me putting words into something this majestic, this divine, this… Beautiful will be just a waste because no amount of work I put in will ever satisfyingly describe The Long Procession. There are many things on this world that are perfect, but what Amia Venera Landscape have created is far from perfect, far past perfect, the word “perfect” would be an insult to The Long Procession.

There are many albums out there which have little purpose other than to make money and typically bands don’t put a lot of thought into an album. I mean, yeah sure, couple of songs maybe a little bit of a variety between some tracks and hey presto, you have yourself an album. Albums which have been thoroughly thought through are a minority. But Amia Venera Landscape has taken into consideration a number of things in the making of The Long Procession that would otherwise slide through the cracks. For a starter, The Long Procession is one of two albums that I’ve heard which is plays like a story rather than “just” another meaningless album (the other is Taake’s Hordalands Doedskvad and for those who don’t know, I gave that album a perfect score). What I love about this kind of layout, is that it presents the listener with more of an journey to the mind but considering that each track is already an adventure in itself, it’s more of a marathon. “Empire”, starts off with a really fast-paced technical song structure which is accompanied by some guitar riffs which set the tone for the rest of the track. Then suddenly, the mood changes to a jazzier, avant-garde fashion whilst maintaining its complexity and energy. After this opening high, there is a quiet moment and eventually, the song re-progresses itself to a really thick sludgecore style passage full of heavy atmosphere. Then there is a piano to exit the song following a brief silence… and this is only the first track. As you can probably gather, there is more in The Long Procession than what many bands can put into a 20 year discography, and even then you cannot guarantee that ALL of it is pure gold…

Extreme technicality and blast beats don’t really come to mind when you think of sludgcore/post-hardcore, (amirite?). Once again, Amia Venera Landscape’s skilful song writing capabilities have allowed the technicality of an average technical death metal band and blast beats which can be compared to some black metal. Utilizing and combining a complex unorthodox song structure and a jazzy atmosphere, which seemed to give their sound a slight “avant-garde” feeling, and we all know in “avant-garde” music anything goes. But what I like about this, is that they still keep their trendy, metalcore aesthetic (this is with the aid of clean vocals and hardcore style guitar riffs of course). I couldn’t imagine a hardcore metalcore fan appreciating a band such as Black Sheep Wall, even though Amia Venera Landscape and Black Sheep Wall are pretty much in the same vein (excluding all the emotion).

It astounds me everytime, how something can evoke so much emotion and thought in a human being? This one question that I’ve been pondering on ever since I first heard The Long Procession because after all, music are just resinating sound waves, but how they influence and sometimes manipulate the mind is still unclear. Not only does The Long Procession contain some of the most technical and heavy post-hardcore you will ever hear, it’s also tremendously emotional. The whole album is just an emotional rollercoaster with compelling uplifting highs to melancholic lows. It’s one of the only albums that I know of that can take your happiness away, and just as easily give it back to you. High pitched tremolo picking and clean vocals are techniques that are commonly used to suggest emotion in -core music. Everything from the roars of the vocalist to the tone of the guitars contributes to the emotional atmosphere, it’s just the way everything that came together in The Long Procession which really makes this especially powerful. I don’t think I’ve ever had such an emotional connection with an album before and I’ve heard a lot of; screamo, black metal, power metal, doom metal and post-metal/rock. If this was just any old band, I’d simply just tell you what makes up this “emotional” component and be done with it but for some reason, I don’t feel that would be enough. It would be a complete waste of time because no matter how I put it. The music speaks for itself on this one; I’ll just leave it at that.

Before hearing The Long Procession, I never understood the purpose of instrumentals in an album because 99 times out of 100, they’re; just the same music without any lyrics to them, sounds of nature/surrounding environment or simply an acoustic passage. They don’t seem to have much direction in terms of “fitting in” with the rest of the album (or maybe I just don’t see it) but on The Long Procession, everything has a purpose because the way I see it, there is not a single second wasted. Yeah, ok, Ascending, Infinite Sunset of the Sleepless Man and Glances (Part I)might be slightly boring when heard individually, but for those who listen to The Long Procession attentively, it’s easy to tell that the reason for the track Ascending is to serve as an outro to My Hands Will Burn First (the only actually song which is under 4 minutes long), Infinite Sunset of the Sleepless Man serves as an intro to the last track The Traitors' March and Glances (Part I) is obviously an intro to Glances (Part II). What Amia Venera Landscape have done with the instrumentals the total opposite to what many think (to waste our time), they’ve pretty much given us the option of listening to an intro/outro or skip to the actual song, which beats the hell out of other bands who force us to sit there through a 3 minute intro. If you’ve read the track listings before reading this paragraph, you’ll recognise that I’ve left out Marasm. Not only is Marasm the outro to Glances (Part II), it’s also the best instrumental I’ve ever heard. It’s a 15 minute powerful masterpiece which magic to the ears.

What Amia Venera Landscape have created is what can only be described as a true masterpiece of an album, the last phrase I just wrote is probably as close as humans will ever get to describing such a thing. The Long Procession is what I believe to be the very purpose of creating music. There are times where the heavy atmosphere crushes you and brings you to tears, other times when you’re uplifted from a feeling of melancholy and put into a state of enlightenment and other times when you cannot express your feelings with words. The Long Procession is for those who truly have a passion for music, anyone looking for general technicality should checkout the tracks Empire and Nicholas. People who are looking for something upbeat and metalcoreish should try Glances (Part II) (also listen to Glances (Part I) beforehand to enhance the Glances (Part II) experience) and for those who are looking for something slightly gloomy, The Traitors' March is a melancholic masterpiece (it’s also my personal favourite on the album). Although all the tracks that I’ve just mentioned have already acquired gold status in my books, I must urge you to listen to the Marasm instrumental because it’s absolutely stunning. Reflecting on what I’ve written, I know I haven’t fully expressed what I feel about The Long Procession but I guess writing this review is all I can do, the rest is up to you. 20/20

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