Amon Sethis – Part 0. The Queen With Golden Hair
Release Date: 12/12/2020
Running Time: 78:00
Review by Simon Black
This is the third album from Grenoble-based Progressive Power Metal quintet Amon Sethis, who once again deliver a concept album with a story taken from somewhere between the Sixth and Seventh Dynasties of Ancient Egypt and covering the life of Egypt’s first female Pharaoh. It’s all a bit vague factually, because the historical record is exceedingly patchy in this politically unstable period to put it mildly and so there’s plenty of scope for artistic interpretation, which is a positive boon for any band. What I am less sure about is whether the world really needs three conceptual albums from the same band with such a narrow historical focus (and with presumably more to come). I have not heard any of the other albums in the series (for which this seems to be a prequel based on the numbering), but I am guessing the Egyptian maqamat tonal form and iqa’at rhythmic mode are a constant throughout their work (that’s the distinctive Egyptian / Middle Eastern sound so abused by Hollywood for those that care). Power Metal concept albums are no stranger to this form and trope (to the point of cliché), but to take that structure into multiple albums without sounding staid takes a lot of work and in this instance throughout a full-length album without sounding the slightest bit tired or clichéd – well that’s quite an achievement.
Musically this is top notch stuff, with an incredibly tight instrumental team displaying no shortage of skill and virtuosity, overlaid by vocalist Julien Tournaud’s clear and crisp vocal delivery (although he’s not afraid to mix it up with some full on growling to keep the delivery flexible). There’s also some great female vocal parts in the mix that add to that epic ensemble effect. In fact, “epic” is probably the key word here and not just from that full on, almost Symphonic feel this album has running through its core, like a stick of Egyptian rock and wonderfully emphasised through a really rich production and sound engineering delivery.
At seventy-eight minutes of run time, brevity is not a factor in the mix here and is the big challenge that I have with this record, which is that much of this material is so very similar in tone and sound. This makes it a bit samey and repetitive, a situation that could have been avoided by trimming the material down to a punchier fifty minutes or so which would have prevented that feeling of repetition and made for a much tighter and more emphatic delivery. I find myself very torn on this review from being impressed with the musicianship and overall sound and being frustrated at the rambling nature of the material. I can’t help feeling that this is a band that you need to enjoy live, where they have to focus on winning an audience over with the tunes rather than getting pulled into a long rambling story. Nevertheless, musically this was very enjoyable, but desperately in need of some judicious editing.
01. The Legacy From The Past
02. Nitocris The Queen With Golden Hair
03. My Sister, My Love, My Pharaoh
04. The Conspiracy
05. The Secret Letter
06. The Rise Of Aoutef’s Army
07. Lost In The West
08. Desert Storm
09. Osiris God Of The Dead
10. Mask Of Wrath
11. By The Torture
12. Eternal Love
13. The Blood Red Temple
14. From Dust To The Stars
Julien Tournoud – Lead And Backing Vocals
Olivier Billoint – Lead And Rhythm Guitars
Eliott Tordo – Keyboards
Thierry Ventura – Bass
Thierry Delvaux – Drums
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