Produced by Sam Shiers and Ambrius. Released on Friday 15 July 2022.
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Effigies of Time is the debut EP from Gloucester-based (pronounced Gloster for any non-UK-based readers) heavy metal band Ambrius, featuring former members of Oakhaart and Tempestora. You wouldn’t know this was their debut, however, it sees Ambrius starting off the blocks with a polished, coherent offering that mixes enormous, dark orchestral sweeps with pounding symphonic crashes. This is a metal album of great technical ability and ambitious vision.
This is as true for the lyrics as the music. From invasions, war, the horrors of prejudice, hatred, and racism, butterfly effects and beyond, Ambrius discusses a broad spectrum of important subject matters throughout the new EPs journey, some of it their own experience and observations on current events. However, one cornerstone cements this release: Stamp out prejudice, hatred and intolerance everywhere. (credit: The Sophie Lancaster Foundation).
A cathartic time capsule, Effigies of Time lyrically resonates with modern day society and current events. Prophetic in places, reflective in others, the lyrics serve as a sharp reminder that the world we live in shifts at a rapid pace and what we thought we once knew now requires careful thought and action if we are to survive and thrive.Press release
The EP opens with the short and gentle “Effigies of time” (track 1). A rising piano melody with accompanying strings rises to a pounding climax with drums and choir. And then we’re off…!
Both “Self reflection” (track 2) and “Breathe” (track 3) have a similar symphonic feel. Huge chords and soaring melodies paint an enormous sonic landscape. The songs are glorious and triumphant. In “Breathe” vocals switch easily between lofty tenor head voice and gruff, throaty grunts, the guitar solos are extravagant and the ending unexpected as the song tails off with an a capella chorus before a closing classical-sounding piano vignette. It feels like the conclusion to a natural sounding aural triptych.
“The unavoidable path” (track 4) is a song with a mission. Magnificant vocals cut through the swell until a delicate picked guitar melody introduces a new dynamic that builds once again to the messy throng of full band with orchestral backing, a razor-sharp guitar solo slicing the song in two. This song has the ambition of Dream Theater and damn it! they pull it off, without—dare I say—the pretention. This is a fabulous 7 minutes 15 seconds of heavy metal.
“Red” (track 5) and “The pulse and purpose” (track 6) are thumpingly good tracks to guide the EP out. “Red” opens with a thrash/speed metal-inspired riff that reappears as a theme throughout; the quiet middle section feels a little formulaic but is interesting and atmospheric enough to make you not care about that. “The pulse and purpose” blasts off at a tremendous rate of knots with a pulsing, throbbing riff and gruff vocals—this isn’t an EP that is going to go out quietly. It is a triumphant and celebratory if a little cliched in places.
But, seriously, who cares about a little metal cliché?! “Ultimately, our debut EP dares to dream of a perfect world, one that embraces ‘imperfections’ instead of shunning and outcasting them”, says vocalist Sam Shiers. And that’s exactly what we have. This EP is not perfect (whatever that means, whatever that would look and sound like), but it’s human and it touches the soul. This is a fabulous and ambitious EP from a new British band that absolutely deserves to be heard.
For fans of: Scar Symmetry, Devin Townsend, Gojira, Opeth, Killswitch Engage.
Review score: 90%
Rob at Stampede Press contacted me inviting me to preview Ambrius’s forthcoming album, which I was delighted about. I have no connections to either Stampede Press or Ambrius. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Rob from Stampede Press, and to Ambrius for continuing to create fresh, exciting music.