AMUN – Spectra and Obsession (Album Review)

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Spectra and Obsession” is the greatest album you’ve never heard of. It’s buried deep in the underground – although recently unearthed by a Discord server of music enthusiasts – and it’s perhaps one of this year’s best-kept secrets. Now, Amun will be a secret no longer. This is a gem that deserves to be shared with the world rather than tucked away in the shadows of a private collection. It also wholeheartedly deserves the accolades as one of this year’s most spectacular, mind-blowing, and expectation-exceeding opus.

There are many words that could describe “Spectra and Obsession.” Some are found in the dictionary, others only in the heart, never meant to be spoken. Some can be drawn from Amun’s Bandcamp bio – describing themselves as electro-organic death metal – or from the genre tags on Rate Your Music. Yet these all seem to pale when faced with the magnanimity of the music itself – how can you describe gazing upon the face of god?

This album is a seamless blend of electronic chaos tempered against raw blackened bite. The unyielding blade of harsh vocals is married against a dark synth’s delicate kiss. It is agonizing, full of inexplicable pain, but this beautiful metamorphosis grows to cosmic proportions across its tracks. These short paragraphs are not enough to capture the true spirit of “Spectra and Obsession.” Perhaps a novella – no, a novel – would not be enough. At nearly two hours long, and packed with motifs and sonic spectacle galore, Amun have made a work of art worth listening to for a lifetime. The layering of elements, the technical skill, the visionary musicianship, it’s all at a level that the scene’s largest names could only dream of. It is beautiful, it is terrifying, it is captivating. It begs listeners to surrender to its embrace.

“Spectra And Obsession” Artwork

Each track on “Spectra and Obsession” features a unique appeal that separates it from the others while still fitting tastefully into the overall flow of the album. Opening track “The Father’s Foundation” enjoys a tremendous build, beginning in silence before it gradually mounts to a barrage of blast beats and howls, soon backed by orchestration that drives it comfortably into the epic black metal vein. This introductory track is deliciously deceptive because as the listeners are finally lulled into the familiar tones of the genre, their expectations are shattered by vicious glitching effects that cut riffs short. It also introduces the most familiar motif of the album, a phrase that is repeated almost ad nauseam, as though a meditation: “I can see the sun beneath the sun between the sky and sea.” 

Some tracks are more straightforward black metal – “The Father’s Foundation” among them – while others lean heavily into the thorny dark synth, namely “Watch for Ghosts.” The front-loaded aggression is tempered by the atmospheric “The Mother’s Mark,” a juxtaposition to the ferocity of “The Father’s Foundation,” and a final respite before the mammoth closer track “A Sickly Fruit Born of Tragic Love.” This closing number, at thirty-five minutes long, is an epic in its own right. From its thrilling climax that ties together the themes and sonic threads of the album to its unique composition, “A Sickly Fruit Born of Tragic Love” is a track worth coming back to again and again. To say more of this final song would be to spoil the most thrilling chapter in this tome of pure sonic magic. “Spectra and Obsession” steps delicately in a deadly dance that joins unlikely companions in a perfect and tragic union. There is no love without pain, and it seems that the album has honed in on expressing the most exquisite pain of all with the adept grace of maestros.

And for all its exultation for the sun, there is also darkness in its history: Amun broke up before the album’s release. Despite releasing what might be one of the most noteworthy albums of the decade, Amun’s existence was destined to be ephemeral, which makes “Spectra and Obsession” that much sweeter. For those seeking more of this delectable, genre-defining, boundary-pushing metal, check out Vulning, the subsequent byproduct of three of Amun’s band members.

“Spectra and Obsession” may be the most genuine innovation that the black and death metal scenes have enjoyed in the past decade. Amun have dared to evolve black metal in a way that is boldly original while building on the foundational tenets of the genre with masterful skill. In just under two hours of mind-melting extremity, Amun tell stories of grandiose proportions, music, and words meeting to create a work of art that is transcendent, and an atmosphere that is drenched in fervent devotion. To soak in the reverie of “Spectra and Obsession” is to watch a ravenous fire ravage a forest, enthralled by its absolute power and majesty, but similarly awed by its destructive force. It is beautiful, it is terrifying, it is captivating. Amun have concocted a novelty that matches virtuosity with passion for a creative vision like no other. 

And a final warning to those that venture forth into “Spectra and Obsession:” Once you emerge from the other side, you will never be the same. But I can promise, this will be for the better.

Release Date: September 1st, 2023
Record Label: Independent
Genre: Experimental Black/Folk Metal

Amun were:

  • Joe Snodgrass / Bass guitar, vocals, acoustic guitar, bağlama, ukulele, didgeridoo, melodica, tongue drum, percussion
  • Aidan Robinson / Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
  • Johnathon Nunn / Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
  • CJ Yacoub / Drums, percussion, vocals
  • Simon James / Synth, keyboard, electronics, pipe

Additional musicians:

  • Backing vocals on “The Father’s Foundation”, “Watch for Ghosts”, and “A Sickly Fruit Born of Tragic Love” performed by David Kehl
  • Backing vocals on “The Father’s Foundation” performed by Braden Schwarzwalder
  • Backing vocals on “Forevermore and Always” performed by Josh Yacoub
  • Backing vocals on “The Mother’s Mark” performed by JustJessASMR
  • Saxophone by Wes Miller
  • Violin and viola by Gavin Adams
  • Hammered dulcimer by Val Cortoni
  • Harp by AliceHarp

“Spectra and Obsession” Track-list:

  1. The Father’s Foundation   20:39
  2. Forevermore and Always   11:27
  3. Watch For Ghosts   9:14
  4. Spectra And Obsession   20:49
  5. The Mother’s Mark   11:45
  6. A Sickly Fruit Born of Tragic Love   34:21

Purchase “Spectra and Obsession” HERE.

9.5 Excellent

“Spectra and Obsession” may be the most genuine innovative album that the black and death metal scenes have seen in the past decade. To soak in the reverie of “Spectra and Obsession” is to watch a ravenous fire ravage a forest, enthralled by its absolute power and majesty, but similarly awed by its destructive force. It is beautiful, it is terrifying, it is captivating.

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 9.5
  • Production 9.5
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