Hearse - Armageddon Mon Amour
Karmageddon Media
Death'n'Roll
11 songs (46'36")
Release year: 2004
Hearse, Karmageddon Media
Reviewed by Alex

Am I the only one who thought Johan Liiva got a short end of the stick while being kicked out of Arch Enemy? I could see why the band needed Angela Gossow on Wages of Sin, and seeing how Arch Enemy is moving towards more commercial modernized sound, poor Johan was not the best fit coming from L-G Petrov, Matti Karki, Carnage School of death metal screamers (not superior growlers, like Angela). However, the man is still worthy of praise and Burning Bridges is still my favorite Arch Enemy album. If I am alone on this one, time passed me by in your opinion and I need to promptly start learning all that stuff about “band evolution”, just drop me a line.

As Arch Enemy moved on to larger and more saleable things, Johan apparently moved to where his heart belonged. Quick stint with Non Exist and then Hearse was born, Armageddon Mon Amour being the second full length album of the band. Only three members strong (who the hell plays bass?), the band created an interesting combo of old school death metal, thrash and old fashioned rock’n’roll. At the same time, they are also pushing the boundaries with some experimental inclusions regardless whether others would find it fitting or not.

The first four or so tracks on the album are raw, aggressive, covered with crud and guts slabs of death’n’roll. Along with Tools, Mountain of the Solar Eclipse, Turncoat, Crops of Waste and In Love and War are just above mid-tempo fast, not too brutal tunes that make the listener “rock out”. Fans of newer Entombed should take notice. These songs are based on quite simple compositions with melodic chords and hooks repeated numerous times. In Love and War has a buzzsaw guitar break and Turncoat has Gotheborg- style lead.

Johan Liiva is himself, his voice being leathery throat screams, not at all polished, but as authentic and honest as they come. Mattias Ljung had some guitar lessons, no doubt about that. His were probably at the Amott Brothers studio, and he also likes to punch out with some long melodic arpeggiated solos (Turncoat, Mountain of the Solar Eclipse). Speaking of simplistic, I don’t think there could be any more simplistic drumming than what is turned out on the album by Max Thornell. Oh, well, Ringo Starr is being called a great drummer, but all he had to do was to keep rhythm. Max can certainly do that.

A couple of instrumentals, slower, distorted and fuzzy, Candlemass inspired Ticket to Devastation and acoustic Sodi, really do not add or subtract to the album much. It feels as though the band had to “fill the album out”. Towards the end of the album Hearse starts to push the envelope combining in one song (Play Without Rules) Dismember adrenaline rush old school Stockholm death metal and … keyboards and chick vocals. Determination is almost gothic with its expansive melodic sound, another nice clean lead and vocal choices combining both screams and Depeche Mode voiceovers. Closer title track is pretty much an instrumental as well, combining grinding guitar sound, female voice, another twisting lead and piano outro.

The last, but not least, the band does an awesome cover of Cambodia by Kim Wilde. This pop track is a perfect choice of cover for the band with its simple verse and massive melodic hook in the chorus.

Somewhere earlier in my review I used the word “honest”. This is what Hearse feels like to me – a band made up of bunch of friends, who decided to have fun. There are no humongous expectations, no need to make it to the “big time”, the desire is to have fun, and, therefore, the album is so multi-faceted, as the guys adhered to “whatever goes” approach. While some would enjoy Armageddon Mon Amour, other will be saying “what??”. I am conveniently positioned in the middle, as I really enjoyed some tracks while the others left me unimpressed.

Killing Songs :
Mountain of the Solar Eclipse, Turncoat, Crops of Waste, Cambodia
Alex quoted 63 / 100
Other albums by Hearse that we have reviewed:
Hearse - Single Ticket To Paradise reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
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