FA Album cover

September 17 2014

Review of the debut full-length album “Burning Insight”

by Neil Arnold at MetalForces Magazine

It’s nice to hear a female-fronted metal band which isn’t on the occult / doom trip – Frantic Amber is a ferocious sounding melodic death metal act hailing from Stockholm.

Instead of aping that typical Entombed / Dismember style of juggernaut buzz the quintet choose to play a more subtle style of hammering made all the more devilish by the terrifying throat that is Elizabeth Andrews. For a deathly growl and cantankerous rasp, look no further than this darkly adorned femme fatale who quite literally owns this debut platter by way of her demonic expressions.

I was first turned onto these guys – albeit belatedly – with the video for ‘Ghost’, which is the final track of this impressive 11-track opus. I was surprised by the energy and successful marrying of traditional metal, clinical thrash and subtle death metal, with the opening percussive trudge, the chugging guitar waves and those cool metallic leads before the band launches into a rattling thrash metal barrage, and then being led into darker waters by Elizabeth Andrews’ evil sneer. Although contemporary by design, Frantic Amber is very much a weighty beast built upon the reasonably complex leads of Mio Jäger who in turn is backed by the steely glimmer of Mary Säfstrand’s rhythm.

For a little background info it’s worth noting that Frantic Amber began life back in 2008 and in 2010 issued an EP entitled Wrath Of Judgement, and they’ve progressed well from there via a brace of singles and gradually maturing into this stormy leviathan of many shades. Whether via a doom-laden chug, a black thrash chunk of menace or some progressive bass trickling courtesy of Madeleine Gullberg Husberg, there’s no doubting the versatility of this act which just within one song (primarily ‘Ghost’) expresses so much metallic emotion and varying tempos that one can only admire the confidence of the troupe.

The title track is a hammer to the face; pounding relentlessly, it slams with speed and efficiency with a foundation of that stony bass and Mac Dalmanner’s truly relentless drum attack. Now, I’m usually put off by flashy harmonies which interrupt brutality, but those ascending strains work well and complement the earthy bellows of Andrews who sounds like a soul possessed as she gutturally chants her way through this hyper-speed slice of bludgeoning metal melody.

‘Wrath Of Judgement’ takes its foot off the pedal, but only slightly. This time the band gallops rather than runs at savage pace; the bass and drum clanks in tandem and almost stark fashion alongside Andrews’ gruff raps. Only when the riffage envelopes the track does it really come to life though, and sadly with this cut it’s all too infrequent and that can be the only letdown with deathlier metal and its lighter grooves. However, having said that, there’s nary a weak track on the record as the likes of ‘Bleeding Sanity’ bring to mind Arch Enemy – especially in the vocal department. I get so much more from this Swedish-based bunch mind, and with ‘The Awakening’ we are once again treated to that polished, yet clinical stabbing lead and those groove-based rhythms.

Another top-notch cut is the slow-building ‘Unbreakable’ with its ominous overtones and juddering bass; it has hints of Slayer initially, although leans more overall to a late 90s / early 00s style of accessible, glinting metal.

While I’m often one to steer well clear of such modern musings, so enamoured am I by Elizabeth Andrews’ bestial yawns and the double axe work that I can only give Frantic Amber’s debut platter a thumbs up. I just hope in the future they concentrate more on the heavy rather than the harmonious.