While only the first half of an ambitiously expansive double LP, Amiensus‘ newest release alone is one for the books.

Release date: April 26, 2024 | M-Theory Audio | Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp

Atmospheric black metal that comes out of Minnesota is that of a different breed. Being a MN native myself, I have and always will proudly represent these local bands to the day I die. While we may not necessarily have the sheer quantity of bands out there, we most certainly have those that put out nothing but utmost quality (and then some – see Panopticon and Ashbringer). What brings us here today is one such MN band that deserves more ears on their music than they currently have. Behold Amiensus and the first half of their double record, Reclamation.

Amiensus are a progressive black metal band that mixes in plenty of atmospheric and folk elements much like the two other bands mentioned earlier. While all these bands do fall within the same sub-realm of music, they each have their distinctive personality and Amiensus is no exception. What you can expect from Part I of Reclamation is music that is boundless and as hauntingly gorgeous as the artwork itself. Let it be known that while this is only the first of two parts, this former piece strongly stands on its own two feet and doesn’t suffer from the fact that this is a split piece of work.

There is no better way to kick off the album and simultaneously introduce first-time listeners to Amiensus than with “Blink of the Moment”. This blisteringly heavy yet equally as melodic intro track is masterfully written in such a way that produces a captivating song that is succint yet dense with so many details that are for you to dissect apart on subsequent listens. Picking out hidden guitar melodies or ambient synths lingering deep in the background has never been so much fun. As made clear on the opening track, and maintained throughout the rest of the record, Amiensus are extremely proficient at writing effective songs that don’t rely on flashy performances nor cheap tricks. Everything is precisely where it needs to be to best benefit the track (and record) as a whole.

The following song, lead single “Reverie”, carries the momentous standard of musical quality set with weeping orchestrations accompanying the tender sung vocals. One thing I especially admire about this song in particular is the four kick-drum beats that fill the negative space between the galloping guitar riff that makes up the chorus. This isn’t to say that negative space needs to always be filled, but how it is implemented and executed in this brief instance adds yet another rhythmic touch that is immensely satisfying. It is always the littlest details like this that are the most satisfying and Reclamation: Part I is chock-full of them.

While I was already head over heels with the music heard on the first three tracks alone, it wasn’t until “Sun and Moon” is where my jaw was left dislodged. This near nine-minute epic is a transcendent musical journey in itself. As much as I want to talk about it more in detail, it is one of those things that are left best experienced blindly; just know that this track is something truly magical (magical2 rather since this album is just atmospheric black metal bliss).

As much as I try to tease out any flaws or missteps, I honestly cannot find a single thing done poorly or half-baked here. My only nitpick just for the sake of having something to talk about is that this is a split double album. As much distaste as I have for these types of split releases (thanks Sumerian Records for ruining that), Amiensus do it right – well, as much I can gather from just hearing part one. The only reason this ‘feels’ incomplete is due to the fact that the record is titled as a part one, leading us to expect at least another piece to continue the sonic voyage.

While the Reclamation journey would be more holistic with all parts accounted for, this first chapter is musically substantial enough to be its own independent entity, warranting its own review. With that being said, the closing track “Transcendence Through Grief” serves as a gorgeous instrumental send-off for the front half of this split double LP. This track in particular reminds me heavily of the legendary Death’s “Voice of the Soul” with how the guitar leads are phrased and harmonize with the acoustic guitars. It is a delightful way to close out this record and segue into its companion piece that is soon to follow.

It baffles me that Amiensus aren’t already a household name in the world of atmospheric/melodic black metal. Even with Reclamation: Part I alone, they’ve proven that they’re well-deserving of the status and I am beyond eager for the to-be-announced Part II to seal the deal. This record is equally as accessible as it is ripe with so much depth and personality, making for the rare release that can be enjoyed by those new to the genre and veterans alike. If the second chapter maintains the quality of the first (which I’d wager that it will), then it will be interesting to see two albums from a single artist in my top 10 of the year. If anyone could do it, it is them. Anyways, Amiensus is further evidence that nothing but the absolute best comes out of Minnesota – you just need to know where to look to uncover these hidden gems.

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