Columbia Records, 2003
REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/20/2003
Writing and recording a follow-up album to one that should have broken a band is a daunting task. This can be especially true when there's an obsessed listener out there that possesses the power of the pen.
In the case of the Norwegian hardcore punk band Amulet, its recent third full-length release Danger! Danger! finds itself in the position of cultivating the band's hardcore bad boy image. Where the band's sophomore effort Freedom Fighters had lead singer Torgny Amdam mixing in small doses of melody to supplement his temperamental rage on stage, it became obvious that he was still pretty damn adept at playing the part of the antagonizing voice of the band; that is, the voice that every hardcore punk band needs and which fits Amulet like a form-fitting glove.
So after giving Freedom Fighters and Amulet's first album The Burning Sphere homes in my CD changer for the better part of the past year or so, I spent the last three months trying to get my hands on this album. Not an easy task when the band's webpage was being overhauled, negating the obvious information flow. Turns out this album was released in Norway first back in early October with a broader European release only scheduled for last week. Perseverance paid off for me by way of a friend of mine in Sweden mailing me this album the week it came out. (If you're reading this, Jorgen, I thank you once again!)
Well, the album jacket has individual photo shots of the five guys in the band sporting bloody noses, battered eyes, and cut lips. This leaves me a believer that this quintet has understood the importance of bringing the street credibility factor into the equation, but you might be asking yourself, are the songs equal to the task?
I've got to be honest and say that after a month of spinning Danger! Danger! I'm finding it's a mixed bag we've got here.
The first single "Breaking News" benefits from several split tempos and the anchor of drummer Jonas Thire's backbeat procession. "Nine Lives" would be the better choice in my book, though, with the searing opening guitar work from Lars Rasmussen and Espen Follestad complementing the spastic vocals of Amdam. It's the lit-match syndrome here, as the axe-work more than ignites Amdam to hyperactively resonate at his best.
Otherwise, the other songs on Danger! Danger! don't inspire the same way as the songs above. Maybe it's because there's actually too much change in the tempo, if that's possible. Remember, we've got five battered guys staring us in the face in the album jacket and hard-core shouldn't teeter with the perception of coming off as medium-core, if you know what I mean.
That being said, the songs on Danger! Danger! don't suck, but they don't create any lasting identity for themselves in the way that many of the songs on Freedom Fighters did. The bridge work on songs such as the title track makes the music just accessible enough to create broad appeal and the overall structures of the songs don't suffer from simplicity. I just think it's that songs like "Money to Burn" or "Revengeful" have large portions where Amdam is too melodic in his lyrical approach.
Amulet will probably find themselves knocking down new walls and building their base to larger audiences in certain circles around the world with this release. Columbia Records, I am sure, will see to that. With my admitted fanaticism for Amulet's prior releases, I was just hoping that this would be the album to take the band one step higher in my book.