Welcome to Sun-Signed #5. This week we look to Greece and the thrash metal band Amken.
After forming in Athens in 2011 the band played on the underground stages of Athens. From there, they entered the studio (Made in Hell) to record their EP in 2014. 2014 also saw the release of the bands first video (see further below). This was later followed by a concert in Germany with Six Feet Under, with further support slots with bands such as Skull Fist to follow.
The band recently got in touch with us here at Sound the Charge! to provide us with a copy of the result of the recording session. The EP is titled Adrenaline Shot and that is a pretty apt description of the release. There is no messing about with dramatic build ups or soft acoustic introductions, it’s a case of press play and thrash.
The EP gives a broad impression of Amken. While the opening track is a quick, straight ahead lump of thrash and to the point, the following tracks showcase a plethora of riffs and ideas. This serves to demonstrate they aren’t a one trick pony, anyone hearing these four tracks will be crying out for a full album by the end. Time and speed changes are plentiful, it’s always good when thrash bands remember slow can be heavy as well.
Nightmares, funnily enough, starts with a nightmare inducing tone (reviewing this in the middle of the night with the lights dimmed is slightly disconcerting) before a slower – or slowish, it’s thrash after all – riff kicks in leading to a good old fashioned headbang section.
There’s a definite air of Teutonic Thrash in Amken’s sound, it’s strongly evident in the vocals of Vanias Apostolopoulos, his rasped attack is reminiscent of Petrozza from Kreator and their various compatriots. It is also present in the bass sound of former member Kostas Triantafullou. American style thrash often finds the bass lacking, however it is strongly present through Adrenaline Shot. However, the guitar work of Apostolopoulos and Giannis Karakoulias plus the drumming from Sokratis Bebis has a definite air of the Bay Area sound buried within it.
This combination of the two big styles of the sub-genre is allowing thrash to grow and expand while keeping the traditional atmosphere. It gives people who have spent decades enjoying it something new to listen to without finding it stale, while still providing them with the music they know and love.
Recoding quality is hard to review when it comes to thrash. It’s one of those genres in which stripped and raw are particularly favoured, even by bands who can afford a more lavish studio. The best way to describe the quality is by saying it sounds exactly like you want a thrash record to sound. It’s a dirty, raw sound while still clear enough that we can appreciate a distinction between the individual instruments. To an unknowing listener it could be a re-master from the 80s or it could be a 2010s release, it fits the bill without sounding dated.
I reviewed another Greek thrash band earlier in the year and once again, it was a strong album. I’m not sure if it’s due to the current financial climate inspiring some disenfranchised youth to pick up their guitars, or if thrash just happens to be kicking off in Greece. Either way, the music I’ve heard come out of the country recently has impressed me, and if you’re looking for some genuine thrash that isn’t just going through the motions, I suggest you turn you attention to bands like Amken and the rest of their scene.
Melodic but not soft, quick but not sloppy, slow but not dull and heavy to the end, Adrenaline Shot will surely see labels sniffing around the band. In the meantime, check out the video below if you still aren’t convinced and click the provided links to get involved yourself.
Vanias Apostolopoulos – Vocals, Guitars
Vasilis Chytiris – Bass (ex-member Kostas Triantafullou played on the EP)
Sokratis Bebis – Drums
Giannis Karakoulias – Guitars
The EP is out now. To buy it follow the links in the about section on Facebook, and then like them to keep updated