Freedom Fighters

Amulet

Bitzcore, 2001

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amulet_%28band%29

REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/09/2004

Hardcore punk can't be tamed without losing it's street credibility or can it? Should such a concept even be entertained?

Oslo, Norway's hardcore upstarts, Amulet, found reason to tinker with what I find to be an exceptional debut release as they hit the studio to record their second album, Freedom Fighters. Adding a second guitarist to the fold (Espen Follestad) that would also contribute backing vocals might seem trivial. But sprinkle in the effects of a Hollywood-schooled female soul singer (Tracee Meyn) to a track coupled with three other chicks singing the prominent background chorus to another song and there would be seemingly be no chance for the album to be taken seriously amongst the hardcore faithful.

Additionally, for that band to release such an album in these circumstances, win categories at the prestigious Norwegian Alarm Awards, and get picked up by a major label has to involve several other factors. Well, it's not going to take putting on the Clouseau hat for me to offer some fundamental reasons why Amulet was able to pull off these feats with Freedom Fighters.

First, Torgny Amdam should be the envy of every hardcore screamo-type act for his maniacal vocal styles. When he chooses to bridge his screaming aggro vocal lines by having to actually sing, he can do it as well as anybody I have ever heard. He has passion and he sounds legitimately pissed when he needs to (which is 90% of the time on this album) which are carry over traits from the band's debut, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Burning Sphere.

Secondly, by the band adding the second guitar and a dedicated background vocalist, Freedom Fighters benefits with a fuller sound than before which admirably does nothing to encroach on Amdam's ability to remain the focal point on all of the songs. If this were a pop or standard rock release, such an observation would be pointless as those genres generally lend themselves to a busier approach in their musical output.

Thirdly, the band had the good sense to employ Norway's own wonderboy, err…Euroboy in Knut Schreiner (Turbonegro, Euroboys, the Vikings) to team with Anders Møller, (Anal Babes) in producing the album. Essentially, these two guys have had their hands in most of the better punk recordings that the Oslo scene has produced in the '90s to present day.

Oh yeah -- we can't forget the female input. The track "Profane Wishes" is where Amulet employs Meyn to harmonize backing vocals around the chorus. The band is able to succeed in pulling this off for a couple of reasons -- Meyn's parts, while noticeable, are hidden by a searing instrumental jam that brings the song back to the overall hardcore pace of the album. Not given the chance to time itself out, "Profane Wishes" stops itself just short of being called a ballad in rock terms.

"Hot Time" is built around the same blueprint. It's another spastic track that comes up for air a couple of times allowing the boys to breathe. Within the context of a 12-track album, both instances of these short-leashed guest appearances do more to create identity for all of the songs on the album than they contribute in hurting anything.

It would be pointless for me to start naming certain tracks on Freedom Fighters as better than others. I have always contended that this was a special album in that it comes off as a complete soundtrack for the entire recording. And in what is something of an odd occurrence, my recommendation of this album to everyone that has taken the time to actually listen to it has yielded nothing but positive remarks.

Dig punk rock? Have the stomach to reel in the hardcore pace? Give this album a listen.

[Note: Columbia re-released Freedom Fighters with some extra tracks and video from The Burning Sphere and before. Roll the dice and ante up the extra bucks to give that release a try.]

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2004 Chris Harlow and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bitzcore, and is used for informational purposes only.