Sunday 3 February 2019

Amber - Amber

(Cover art for the Zegema Beach LP pressing)

Labels: Zegema Beach Records/Halo Of Flies Records/Narshardaa Records
Formats: Vinyl/Tape/Digital
Release Date: 11 Apr 2012


1. Cold Hands Warm Heart
2. More Than We Can Bear
3. Long Walk Home
4. For Better Or Worse
5. I Wish I Wouldn't Dream

Now that I'm fully over the technical issues that recently blighted me and my progress, I wanted to start something that I've been planning for a little while. Alongside my current review schedule of newer releases, I wanted to go back and review the back catalogue releases of some bands I've written about over the years and also of some labels that I follow. Its nothing new, as back in the blog's earlier days I pretty much wrote about the entire roster of labels like Church of Fuck and Headless Guru Records here in the UK. I've decided to go further afield now and focus on the bands aligned to Canadian label Zegema Beach Records as a starting point and the first review focuses on German post-hardcore band Amber.

To set the scene for this one; I previously wrote about the band's 2014 releases "Lovesaken" and the "Split" with Locktender, so I'm now going back to Amber's debut self-titled release. It was originally self-released digitally by the band in 2012, before being released on tape via Narshardaa Records and Halo Of Flies Records (RIP) and on vinyl by Zegema Beach Records the following year. Amber is no longer playing music but it's member are (in other bands) and are still sharing great German music.

(Original digital cover art from Amber's Bandcamp page)

This begins a series of review that I’m hoping will give people some respite from the constant wave of extreme metal that I’ve been writing about and will be writing about. Amber’s post-hardcore still fills me with butterflies when I listen to it and being able to go back to the very beginning of the band feels exciting. This self-titled debut shows exactly what Amber were setting out to achieve with their sound and opener Cold Hands Warm Heart shows no sign of ageing, with It’s cinematic instrumental work and harsh vocals. 

Amber counted the likes of Cult Of Luna and ISIS (the band) as influences and you can see why, with their sprawling songs that favoured substance over style (apologies, that was not meant in a disparaging way at all). More Than We Can Bear is the perfect example of my previous statement because of it’s length and delivery, which is both off-kilter tempo-wise and aggressive in parts, while not losing any of their post-rock backbone.

There are so many bands like Amber, whom released a handful of EPs/Albums and then called it a day and/or went on to form new bands. At least in these modern time it’s easy to keep their music alive through Bandcamp and the like. This is sort of where the song Long Walk Home becomes quite apt, because for me at least, It’s a reminder of those bands and what they mean to me, with Amber being one. Not so much with a feeling nostalgia, but with one of warmth and fondness. 

There’s a good hint of screamo in Amber’s music here, which is to be expected I guess and even though their self-titled EP was their first release, it doesn’t suffer from the usual nerves or sound-searching that a lot of bands suffer from. For Better Of Worse is quite upbeat, especially thanks to it’s melody and the layers of instrumentation present. Once again, you’re left with a massive instrumental section in the middle that is so easy to get lost in. So much so that when the final sixty seconds of screaming kick in, it’s a bit of a shock to the system.

Closing song I Wish I Wouldn’t Dream could have been the unassuming epitaph for Amber, as it’s the most caustic song here and is filled with true raw emotion. You can hear that emotion cutting through the music in the screams. The more ominous nature of the music leaves an uneasy atmosphere that hints at a darker direction from the band, but that also leads to light. The light of knowing that Amber’s music still exists for all to enjoy and is still able to leave it’s mark on the scene that the band were a part of.

(Cover art for the Narshardaa Records/Halo Of Flies tape release)

You can stream and grab all of Amber's releases digitally (name-your-price) via Bandcamp below:-

You can still buy vinyl copies from Zegema Beach Records here.

Members of Amber are now playing in Yanos -

The next band I'll be focusing on is - Descubriendo A Mr. Mime!

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