This album is probably the exact opposite case that Erathems was. As the second LP on Marius Strand‘s career as The Fall of Every Season, Amends was fairly well publicized since it’s release, way back in the 2013’s first trimester. And even a good amount of blogs and specialized sites did highly positive reviews. But somehow managed to make just a few year end lists. I had to see it on one of those few to actually remember how good it was. So what’s its problem? No staying power? No memorable music? Let’s see if I can find out.
Marius Strand is probably not the speedier musician. It took him six years to get his one-man project into releasing a sequel to his also lauded debut. Its music is also a measured, really polished rhythm and style mix between melodic and powerful heaviness. Of course you will think that this is nothing new (seriously, what is new these days though?) And perhaps this may be its single greatest flaw. But with careful balance between every element and instrument and a proficient production work, Marius Strand compensates by bringing composition skills that perhaps rival genre heavyweights like Neurosis or Opeth. He deftly juggles a lot of influences such as the profound melancholy of Woods of Ypress and Katatonia, the unmistakable doom sound of Paradise Lost, Swallow the Sun or Draconian, and at times a more classic progressive sound reminiscent of Anathema’s latest works. But even in the more melodic passages, he manages a sharp, fierce feeling that still keeps it well grounded into metal territory, especially when he seems to channel Åkerfeldt’s best vocal moments with a powerful roar that could very well be in any death metal outfit.
Having taken those six long years to make, Amends shows a big labor of love in every track. The ebb and flow of the entire album is so well assembled that it feels like the work of a seasoned veteran and not the sophomore effort of a young and hopefully upcoming artist. Even when its more rewarding to hear the entire record start to finish because of this, the individual tracks still keep their own personality. If it were a work in a more popular genre, I’m sure it would have spawned a myriad of singles, being all the tracks as solid as they are. Lyrically, Strand apparently likes to keep it cryptic enough, he seems content with painting vivid sceneries with strong emotional melodies, and adding verses to them that barely sharpen the details.
Norway seems to keep its strong connection to a lot of different styles of metal and Strand seems to be one very promising example of it. One could only hope that the follow up to Amends won’t take another half decade to make. But if the evolution is as notable as it was between the first and second releases, it will be worth the wait as much as it takes. Maybe the music is not as stylistically genre-defying or groundbreaking, but the bottom line is that Marius Strand made a powerful and at times truly breathtaking statement that shows great musical proficiency that I heartily recommend as one of the best lesser known successes of 2013.