"Skeleton Skeletron" (Century Media; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The word on the street was that Tiamat had merged the sound of their past two releases into one collective whole with "Skeleton Skeletron."  It was said that the atmospheric death metal of "Wildhoney" and the trippy-ness of "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" were combined into a broad alterna-metal package. I had visions that Tiamat would be able to pull off what The Cult did when they merged the alternative "Love" with the hard rock of "Electric" into a very satisfying "Sonic Temple." Sadly, this is not the case with "Skeleton Skeletron." 

This isn't to say that "Skeleton Skeletron" is a bad disc. It's quite good - it just doesn't reach the heaviness that Rough Edge readers are accustomed to. 

The urgency found on the 1994 release "Wildhoney" is back, if only temporarily, on tracks like "For Her Pleasure," "Dust Is Our Fare," and "As Long As You Are Mine." Each of these three songs creates a sense of movement that was lacking on "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" - then again "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" wasn't about repeating the fertile sonic ground of "Wildhoney."  

"Brighter Than The Sun" carries on the common musical motif of emotional depth just like "Cold Seed" did on the album "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" and "The Ar" did on the album "Wildhoney."  "Skeleton Skeletron" lays the synthesizers on fairly heavy. Gone are the heavy guitars and the folk influences that made Tiamat a refreshing combination of styles. Also gone is the sort of desperate passion of a tortured and wronged soul - the personal troubles Edlund experienced during the making of the previous disc obviously provided him with a wealth of material to howl on "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber." 

One of the good things about "Skeleton Skeletron" is that it focuses on songs. As a consequence the neat instrumental pieces that segued from one track to the next on previous efforts are missing on this disc. 

However, there are some problems. For one, Tiamat's version of "Sympathy For The Devil" is bathed in steep gothic overtones - it almost sounds like Type O Negative did the cover for Tiamat; and that's not the only troubling thing about this song. A band of Tiamat's strength and creativeness shouldn't have to rely on cover songs to round out their disc to ten songs. 

Edlund's lyrics have taken a slight dip in quality, but what really kills the vocals is the oft-repeated delivery of chorus lines in an ad infinitum manner. 

Is "Skeleton Skeletron" a hard rock/heavy metal album? Not quite. Is "Skeleton Skeletron" a work of art? Yes. Tiamat have taken yet another step away from heavy metal, but have redeemed themselves with an inventive approach and strong material. If the band continues their current path there will be little left to make them worthy of inclusion to the Rough Edge pages. It seems as though the heavy metal brilliance of Tiamat is more like a passing meteor shower - the brightness was quick, but now its gone. What remains is a talented band that is something less than a heavy metal outfit, yet still manages to avoid most clichés. 

"Skeleton Skeletron" is for Tiamat fans and fans of the gothic genre. 

"Skeleton Skeletron" was produced by Dirk Draeger and Johan Edlund. If anything, "Skeleton Skeletron" sounds awesome. Stellar production has always been a hallmark of Tiamat releases - the production here is no exception. 

Tiamat is Johan Edlund on guitars, keyboards, and vocals; Anders Iwers on bass, and Lars Skold on drums. Background vocals were sung by Nicole Bolley, Andrea Schwarz, and Jessica Andree. Additional piano played by Stefan Gerbe.

For more information visit the band's official website at www.churchoftiamat.com and step into the dark. 

"A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" (Century Media; 1997)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The creative mind of Johan Edlund impresses once again. After having taken the world by storm with "Wildhoney," Tiamat were faced with the difficult task of improving upon this atmospheric classic. "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber," although not perfect, is a profound step forward for the band. Tiamat's growing maturity and an uncanny ability to create haunting melodies is the burgeoning hallmark of their sound.  

"A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" has an eloquent range of emotions, stark images, and richly textured musical soundscapes. Trippy, trance-like vibes have replaced the atmospheric death overtones to great effect. "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" easily advances artistry in the heavy metal canon. 

Tiamat employs a slower pace than heard on "Wildhoney"; the leisurely pace allows Tiamat to extract every oozing fiber of emotion from each song. The deliberate pacing allows for better dynamics as nearly every instrument takes its place in the sun. Tiamat is adept at playing the right riffs and instruments for the mood of the songs - this is what fans dearly hope for in an album.  

The Pink Floyd effect is in full force - this disc is best enjoyed with headphones. Copious layers of music and vocals are woven into a tapestry of sounds and bleak realities. "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" is a sonic feast for the ears. Every song has distinct characteristics, depth, and urgency - one quick listen to "Cold Seed" or "Phatasma De Luxe" is ample proof of this fact.  Tiamat have once again interspersed the songs with instrumental pieces, but this time the instrumentals are full fledged musical ideas. "Four Leary Biscuits" is the best of the bunch - it's a drug-fueled, worldly music escape to higher consciousness; "Four Leary Biscuits" keeps the band's folk influence intact, yet manages to add a global, tribal drumming beat. 

The disc closes with two somber tunes: the scathing words of "Mount Marilyn" and the questioning title track - a quiet ending to an unsettling, personal journey. 

Johan Edlund has eliminated the use of his guttural growl in his vocal style; Edlund has opted for a more balanced approach in his vocals. In particular, "Alteration X 10" is a stunning vocal performance that is worthy of praise. The move towards a less-guttural approach was a wise choice as it makes his lyrics seem even more eerie. 

Edlund's lyrics are unconventional and striking. Edlund's choice of words are picturesque - Edlund's details are descriptive enough to hint at the story he's trying to tell, but not so verbose as to tell the whole story. The lyrics deal explicitly with the cyclical elements of nature and implicitly with human relationships - death and rebirth, creation and destruction, the spiritual and the corporeal. Apparently,  Edlund was having particular difficulty in his personal relationships at the time of recording "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber"; listen to "Atlantis As A Lover" to hear gut-wrenching revelation. The disc is permeated by a hopeless, nearly depressing, unforgiving outlook on human interaction. 

I highly recommend "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" for fans of Pink Floyd, Queensryche, Alastis, and Moonspell.  

"A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" was produced by Dirk Draeger and co-produced by Johan Edlund. Siggi Bemm mixed and mastered the disc. Edlund wrote all the music and lyrics. 

Tiamat is Johan Edlund on vocals, guitar, keyboards, and theremin; Thomas Petersson on electric and acoustic guitars; Anders Iwers on bass; and Lars Skold on drums. There are many additional musicians that contribute violin, cello, sitar, flute, oboe, and additional keyboards and vocals. 

For more information visit the band's official website at www.churchoftiamat.com and taste wildhoney.

"Wildhoney" (Century Media; 1994)tiamata.jpg (13535 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Tiamat's hypnotic and intoxicating mid-paced symphonic black metal has subtle gothic nuances. "Wildhoney," released in 1994, will prove to be the defining moment of the ambient metal scene. This daring Swedish outfit provides visionary approaches to their musical panorama - it's very likely you haven't ever heard a band like this. All the instruments play an equal part in the dark shadows of pessimism.

"The Ar" speaks of the dangers of racism as though it was a hidden genetic horror; the driving musical passages are fairly traditional but the background vocals add a wonderful touch. The somber "Gaia" reminds the listener of far reaching power of Nature. "Visionaire" recalls the bravery of a man who feels he is in complete control of his universe; the enticing music complements the line of "follow me if you dare." "Do You Dream Of Me?" adds a touch of flamenco guitar to the dreamy ballad-like tone - the strength of the character's curiosity threatens to undo him. "A Pocket Size Sun" drops the gothic sheen for a watery, "new age"-like musical meandering that contains a wonderful, subdued duet with Brigit Zacher.

As good as those tracks are, the best track by far is "Whatever That Hurts." The haunting arpeggio of "Whatever That Hurts" has a gothic death metal riff to die for; the great musical pacing of this song balances the moderate growl of the vocals. I also hear hints at the far-reaching influence of Pink Floyd in this track's lead guitar. The beauty of the track lies in its ability to take you someplace you've never been before - just like a good movie. The sinister mood of the mystery-fueled paranoia soaks the surroundings like a slow rising flood - the apparent danger isn't immediate, but it sucks you into a vortex of growing terror.

The instrumental songs are brief, but add more drama than most bands can only dream of. "Wildhoney," "25th Floor," "Kaleidoscope," and "Planets" are short, moody pieces that create interludes of grandeur that allows for a continuous flow from section to section.

If you like heavy music without incessant bombastic guitars then you just might enjoy the taste of "Wildhoney." The classical influences, gothic overtones, and eclectic variety complement each other into a cohesive whole that approaches near masterpiece status.

"Wildhoney" was produced by the legendary and multi-talented Waldemar Sorychta; Sorychta has worked with the Gathering, Grip Inc., and Lacuna Coil. Engineering for "Wildhoney" was provided by Siggi Bemm, who has   worked with Covenant, and Waldemar Sorychta. "Wildhoney" was recorded at the world famous Woodhouse Studios in Germany. This is probably the best sounding pre-1995 Century Media product I've ever heard.

Tiamat is Johan Edlund on guitar and vocals as well as Johnny Hagel on bass. Session guitarist Magnus Sahlgren played lead guitar and session drummer Lars Skold played the kit. Additional vocals were provided by Brigit Zacher. Edlund, Hagel, and Sorychta are the primary songwriters on "Wildhoney."

For more information visit the band's official homepage at www.churchoftiamat.com to learn more.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright © 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Aug 2022 14:16:30 -0400 .