Branching Out And Taking Over
Review for the new album from Aramis, Crimson, can be heard here!
I just reviewed the first EP from Aramis very recently. It's a rather old release, but I felt that Nik's music needed more attention so I went over all of his material from his original Ep, Insignificant Memories(listen here), plus his in between single titled, Constrictor(listen here), which he released while writing his brand new album, Crimson. The music that Nik writes with his solo project, Aramis, is a blending of styles and is a labor of love for him in a therapeutic sense. This music comes from within him, the lyrics are based upon his life's experiences and the things he witnesses around him and how he reacts to them, he then puts pen to paper, pick to guitar strings, and fingers to fretboard, and let's it all flow. This follow up album brings the heavy riffs that we heard from Insignificant Memories, but seems to have honed their edge a bit over the fire and Nik has forged several songs to add to his metal arsenal for all of us to take in and enjoy. So from the fires of creation within the world and how Nik views it, Crimson is here to quench our metal thirst, let us dive in to these tracks and see if lightning can strike twice for Nik, or will his new album fall victim to the age old trope of the second album failure? Let's find out.
A thunderstorm paints the landscape as rain falls down in splatters across the canvas. Nik sits motionless, deep in thought, as the rain washes over him and falls to his feet. The energy builds up inside and we hear the distant strings of his guitar playing a somber tune as it swells and fades in Solitude, the opening soundscape track for this album. As he sees his reflection cast back at him from the muddy puddles forming at his feet, the serene scene is then disrupted by the force of nature riffing on the following, title track, Crimson, with furious tremors in the waters below, breaking the calm. Vicious chord picking in rhythmic patterns combined with ferocious drumming introduces us to what Nik has been holding up his sleeves for all this time in between releases. His strong vocals are ever present as always, growling and echoing through the music in a monstrous display of power and domination over fast as fuck metal marching forth from Nik's amps making for one helluva scorching album opener! Once again, it seems the blood, sweat, and tears that Nik has given to his music would make the metal gods of old smile down upon him in approval with horns held high, for a second time, we are definitely off to a good start, and I must say that the last two or three minutes of this song are worth blowing your speaker out with, holy shit what a way to close this song out!
Slow Burn is up next after that riff fest of a title track, and the title is very fitting. As the music chugs along with creepy dissonant notes and thick chords being struck, the intensity of this song really lies within the powerful and aggressive vocal delivery that Nik has put together. Those elements combined make for the music to sound like a caged animal ready to strike at any given moment. I can't help but to think of Metallica's Harvester Of Sorrow or Desire by Slayer. The heaviness of this song comes from it's simplicity, not all songs need to have three dozen riffs or be overly technical, and this track proves that in spades. Nik nailed it with the title on this one, it is definitely a evil and vile, slow, but satisfying burn. It gives off images of a monster creeping and lurching forth to devour it's prey, good stuff!
Slow Burn seems to almost bleed in to the following track, Vain Affliction. A classic thrash metal meets groove metal opening hits us across the face before the ferocity returns with Nik's, now trademarked approach to his music with Aramis. After listening to all of his music, he definitely has a style and it is very old school thrash metal meets death metal with hints of metalcore and even melodic death metal in some instances strewn about for effect. This song pushes forward with a constant driving force until the mid song break down, complete with solo, before firing on all cylinders for the closing of the track. Vain Affliction is a simple formulaic song here but it is a smooth ride all the same and was very enjoyable to bang my head along to. And bang your head you will, this song and so far each track has had a nice flow to them ranging from intense in your face brutality to rocking grooves that keep you jamming along with the music.
Up next we have the second single released from this album, You Are The Enemy. A very Pantera meets Megadeth styled song, You Are The Enemy is a very energetic and fun song to jam to. Heavy verse riffs punish you as the chorus riffs keep things nice and groove laden. The pre chorus riff is quite memorable here and lends to the chorus itself more than likely getting stuck in your head, it's quite catchy. The overall aggressive approach to the song on this track is thick and infectious, Nik did a tremendous job with You Are The Enemy, making for a song that will more then likely be a stand out track for most people on this album and it was a good call making this song one of the singles off of Crimson. The pure anger and frustration within Nik can be explicitly heard on this track as he drives the point home on the things that seem to really piss him off that is going on in the world currently, and you know what? Without getting overtly political, I happen to feel the same way about the state of things and screaming about it with brutal metal riffs blazing in the background is a good approach to releasing the build up of that frustration. War may be coming, but at least with this song, we have a soundtrack to it.
The next track, Saturn Rising, amps and speeds things up a bit. This song almost feels like a direct continuation from Nik's previous release, Insignificant Memories, it just feels like it fits within the veins of that release, but now more of a behemoth on Crimson, like that metal blade he began forging back in the day is now ready to wield on this particular album here with Saturn Rising(I really hope that makes sense). The attention to detail on this track with the riff placement, pacing, and guitar melodies is fantastic in this song, you can hear every little detail and feel every little movement of this song as it sucks you in. This one might be my personal favorite on this album so far and the mid song riffing is absolutely fantastic. Just the way this song moves in general is really impressive and begs to be heard.
Promethean Treatment, the first single from this album, is almost a baroque styled approach to metal. It seems to have some rather interesting time signatures and change ups that keep this song fresh throughout. If I were to have to select a track that would be fitting on a radio station, I'd say that this is the track to put out there to the masses. Not that that is a bad thing(gotta be careful round these parts here with that word, "radio"), Nik just made a song that I feel can help bridge the gap and help bring in new listeners with this song while still satisfying the metal lust of his fans he has already built up. This song is a great display of force, eloquence, and energy all balled up in to one piece of metal mayhem. The breakdown of this song that prefaces the phrygian styled guitar solo is excellent and Nik knocked it out of the park with this section of the song. Promethean Treatment is a beast of a song that I personally feel can also help break down metal walls and boundaries to help the scene grow, and grow in the right direction, when I said I could hear this on the radio, I didn't mean in one of those "listener friendly" type ways, I meant that I can hear pretty much anyone finding something that they can truly enjoy and appreciate with this song and getting it out on the radio can help not only Aramis get to more people, but help more people find a liking to heavy metal music in general after hearing this song.
Moving along we have the song, Sunder. Now, this song is a totally different beast from what I am used to from Nik with Aramis. Hot damn! This is the utmost vicious and heaviest that I have ever heard Nik play before. Sunder seems to blend old school death metal with, dare I say it... black metal. The intense tremolo blasting riffage and black metal drum blasting is used to great effect in between the ball busting heavy parts of the song. I almost had to do a double take and make sure that I was still listening to Aramis. But rest assured, this is still Aramis, just a entirely different take and, well, Nik pulls it off and succeeds. With all of these new elements being added to Nik's musical tool box, he still manages to make the "new", sound familiar, with his unique style of playing that we've come to know with his playing for Aramis, he succeeds in keeping the thrash and groove element that IS Aramis, alive even though this song is drenched in black metal and old school death metal arrangements, well fucking done man, well fucking done, this song is heavy as shit and takes no prisoners!
The previous song, Sunder, and the following track here, A Lightless Mourning, come in like a yin and yang approach on the album. While Sunder hits you on all senses and leaves you breathless, A Lightless Mourning will leave you breathless in a different and emotional way as it comes in like the breaking of a new day, as waves crashing against the shore. A Lightless Mourning, an emotional roller coaster, once again sees Nik treading unexplored territory for him with his music so far in his catalog. A softer song, almost ballad-like in a sense, A Lightless Mourning hears Nik utilizing clean vocals to deliver the raw emotion and power of the music he has written with this track as the guitars bleed forth the imagery alongside his dark and thought provoking lyrics. It is clear that Nik is not only experimenting on this album, but growing with confidence in his musical capabilities as an artist and metal musician. I rather enjoyed this track, it was a different change of pace, I may be coming back around to ballad type songs it seems after for so long having zero interest in these types of songs, but I still understand the need for these as a form of expression and a way for the artist to really show themselves to the listener in a more intimate manner.
Feeding The Ouroboros is the following track. Now, I remember being shown a very, very early version of this track and It definitely feels like this song has grown up a bit. The pacing in this track is kind of like watching the fuse on a bomb burn away, like your time is slowly ticking away. And speaking of time, the time signatures on this song are interesting and keeps this track moving along in a rather progressive way, almost like a progressive death, thrash song. The riff work and overall sound of this song is beastly and fitting of the song's title, this one is a monster. The way that the riffs play with the overbearing feeling of something chasing you or knowing that your time on this earth is almost at an end is very unique in this song. This is definitely one of those songs where you have to "experience" it for yourself to even remotely get a glimpse of what I'm trying to explain to you, the riffs are oppressive, the arrangements are unsettling, and the overall feel of this song is just, kind of disturbing, but in a good metal way, like a horror movie in metal form. Get it? Good, now go listen to it.
After that wild ride, we have the closing track, Absolution. Nik is bringing that quick chugging riffage back on this track, in a big way. With rhythmic precision that would make Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth proud, Absolution really represents this album in it's entirety, it feels like a culmination of the previous tracks, all surmised in one song. The embodiment of the styling of Aramis but in a more mature presentation is a good way to describe what Nik has done here with Absolution and it feels like the perfect way to end a rather perfect album, especially how the song ends here and loops back to the album intro, Solitude, like Nik is telling you, "hey, it's ok to repeat the album and just zone out". The monstrous riffs presented within this song are fantastic how they keep the pacing steady from beginning to end and the guitar solo that comes in is used to great effect and really pushes this song over the edge, it's truly great work.
It indeed feels like lightning has struck twice for Nik. Crimson is a strong album from the moment you push play up until the final note is played. It is a solid representation of what Nik brings to the table with his music and is a musical step in the right direction for Aramis. So many bands fall into the trappings of the dreaded second album curse, but not Nik, this music seems to have elevated his presence in the metal scene in my book. Crimson hits all the right notes, checks all the boxes, and even presented a number of pleasant and powerful surprises that kept things feeling fresh as the album progressed. Rather than feeling forced in to the music for the sake of just doing it to sound different, the new changes and styles Nik experimented with never once felt out of place and you could tell that he made sure of that, that it felt right at home alongside his own musical style, which now seems to have grown with the incorporation of these new styles he has been playing around with. Not once did I find myself checking song length because the songs never dragged or felt boring, everything was full of energy and had the appropriate pacing. This is a good indicator that the future is bright for Nik with Aramis and that the path he is walking with his music is a path that he is in complete control of. I give Crimson a rock solid 9 out of 10 on the absolute banger scale. The way the songs incorporate different metal styles and elements and utilizes them to form Nik's own style with Aramis is impressive, not once did it feel like he was ripping anyone off or misrepresenting anything from his musical inspirations, it truly felt like it was his way of showing us and the metal ones that have come before he and us, that he has learned their ways and that he is ready to rock out and melt faces off with his own brand of metal with everything he has learned from them. Crimson feels more like a homage being payed while molding it all to his own will. You can check out Crimson here and listen for yourself and try to understand what all of my metal ramblings are all about and show him your support by following his socials here and stay up to date on everything Nik is doing with Aramis because I feel that Crimson is just the beginning of this metal journey that is set out before Nik with his solo project, Aramis. Check out the latest interview Nik did with Metal For The Masses Radio Show And Podcast below the Youtube videos I have put below to get a more in-depth view of Crimson from Nik himself.
Review done by Joshuah Jones, the bassist of The obsidian Resurrection.
_ Per Musicam Unitum Stamus, In Music We Stand United -