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Getting Into: Tiamat


Written by: Netzach
Published: 01.03.2022


When I think about the discographies of bands, I more often than not find myself placing them in one or two of the following categories: bands starting out with playing their favourite metal style and later perfecting it; bands doing likewise and then changing direction entirely, subcategorised into the ones later famous for their earlier or later material, respectively; bands not knowing what the hell they are doing at all and failing; bands likewise having no clue but ending up releasing a masterpiece or two…

Okay, it's a long list of potential labels. My point is, Tiamat is one of those bands that, like Ulver, Mogwai, Pink Floyd, and others, is hard to pigeonhole as they always seemed to simply do whatever the hell they felt like. More precisely, considering they as of 1996 became a band spearheaded and masterminded by Johan Edlund, one of Sweden's most underrepresented yet undeniable musical geniuses (and with an unbeatable voice to boot), I think it's safe to say that Tiamat is generally known for doing whatever Johan felt like doing.

Boy, did he want to do a lot of things. Death metal, black metal, symphonic metal, thrash metal, gothic rock, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, post-rock, avant-garde, electronic, trip hop, world music, singer-songwriter… Did I forget something this band has tried? Very likely. Before we come to that, however, it needs to be mentioned that however much this band might be known for their later (altogether mostly excellent) gothic rock/metal escapades, Tiamat remains one of these bands that will always be known in metal circles for their truly groundbreaking 1994 album Wildhoney.

The mid 90s was an awkward period for metal, especially in the more extreme substyles; as a genre, metal seemed to be constantly at odds between its history as a blues-or-classical-grounded approach to writing rocking or cerebral music, but as cheap-as-shit sounding Casio keyboards became affordable, the role of the synthesizer in metal started to tentatively solidify. Come on, even Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish has kept citing Wildhoney (particularly "Gaia" off of it) as a major influence. It's not their best album by far (are your feathers ruffled yet?), but no doubt one of the most influential metal albums there ever was. Wildhoney is one of these indelible transitional albums that simply hit the mother lode of inspiration and potential, and transformed the face of metal forever. Then, they'd go on to release an album that's barely even classifiable as rock, and it's my favourite album ever. More on this later, of course.

I've compiled a 15-song Spotify playlist available at the end of the article, feel free to give it a spin while reading! Lets… get into it, shall we?





1990 — Sumerian Cry


Like many (Nordic, but also from elsewhere) metal bands from the same period, Tiamat started out as an extreme metal band that through extensive experimentation developed from their idol-serving origins into an entity as unrecognisable as irresistible in its irreverent exploration of the boundaries of musical genres. In their beginnings, in the late 80s, Tiamat were a Stockholm-based death metal band known as Treblinka. Fortunately being asked to change their moniker after recording their demo in 1989, they adapted a demo song for the moody, melodic intro track "Sumerian Cry, Part 1", but most of the songs here are straight-up, early 90s Stockholm death, similar to the earliest works by Entombed, Therion, Amorphis and Sentenced (all of who would, in the same fashion as Tiamat, go on to create genre-defining albums of their own: death'n'roll, operatic metal, progressive folk metal, and Suomi metal, respectively).

The guitar tone is dirty yet crisp, the drums and growl forefront, the bass admirably present, and the songs themselves are… of variable quality. There is little of the atmospheric quality you'll find already on the follow-up album, and the tracks are mostly decent Morbid Angel, Celtic Frost, and, dare I say it, Metallica worship, but I'll be damned if "Where The Serpents Dwell" isn't one of the oldest examples of well done death/doom (The Ruins Of Beverast covered it on Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite). An interesting and important piece of Swedish and metal music history, buto my ears somewhat disposable in this band's catalogue.


1991 — The Astral Sleep


Now we're talking. Well, not "we", I'm mostly listening. It's Johan who has started talking, and even singing a bit on songs. Tiamat's second album is very peculiar, especially considering it is from 1991. It predates Therion's Beyond Sanctorum, Amorphis' Tales From The Thousand Lakes, and Sentenced's North From Here, and somehow manages to piecewise encapsulate all the aspects that aforementioned bands would go on to delve deeper into. It also predates me, by a couple of months.

We're talking here about a, for their time, highly eclectic and inventive band on par with Celtic Frost (which was the most obvious inspiration for pretty much all early 90s Swedish metal). "Neo Aeon" is a sweeping intro, and the first notion of what the band would develop into. The thrash influences remain, best heard in the banger first proper song "Lady Temptress", which just oozes death and doom swag, and the more mid-paced, forgettable "Angels Far Beyond". "Sumerian Cry, Part III" is just a fucking sexy death metal song, with Johan making excursions into black metal shrieking.

The real gem here, though, and the herald of the lauded Wildhoney style, is "Mountain Of Doom". I dare you to show me an earlier example of such a beautiful mesh/mess of atmospheric, acoustic picking, thrash/death groove, and symphonic grandeur. Actually, no bet, I'm already playing "For Whom The Bell Tolls" from Metallica’s Ride The Lightning, but this is nearly as good in its epic-yet-grounded splendour. Already on The Astral Sleep, Johan Edlund had assumed lyric and songwriting duties, and while the concepts still deal very much a lot (as they would continue to) with themes from ancient civilisations, Johan's take on it is a more spiritual one than the Raiders Of The Lost Ark approach of the debut. Themes again shared by Therion, who had just started operating in the historical religious capital of Uppsala not far north of the actual capital. If you like early Therion, you need to check this album out. However…



1992 — Clouds


…you first need to check this album out! Man, Tiamat's early records are way too often written off as "just decent death metal", when there's so much more to them, and while the following Wildhoney would be the album that finally gave the band the recognition they deserved as one of the most inventive, professional metal bands around at the time, I prefer Clouds; it's just so much more coherent (blame later Pink Floyd worship for this, I think). Hah, just kidding, of course.

Clouds remains an impressive work, though. "In A Dream" is a god-damn dream of a song in itself; the simplistic doom in the verse, the raging guitar melody in the bridge, and the charmingly eerie synth pad-driven chorus complete with an actual spoken-word title-dropping in a deadpan manner in between epic, reverberating pseudo-growls… Hell, draw your own conclusions, but to me, that makes for one of the most enjoyable and interesting metal songs ever put to tape. "Smell Of Incense" is highly moshable. "The Scapegoat" has a guitar hook and prog attitude worthy of mid 90s Amorphis. "A Caress Of Stars" sounds like a template to Katatonia's Brave Murder Day, and is moreover one of the earliest examples of gothic doom metal I can think of. It's a proper trip (and Johan would go on to sing about proper trips for most of Tiamat's career), but I'd rather kill myself than leave out this next mention:

"The sleeping beauty / She stops the bleeding / She stops the bleeding in my soul / She is fresh air in this stinking world"

Yep, it seems Johan already had a sweet tooth for heroin (it would later become the namesake of their 1996 album). It is one of the few drugs I've not dared to try, and I'm pretty fine with that. The song, however, has an oriental guitar hook that's as crushing as it is beautiful, airy synth pads lift the easier sections, and the gang-shouty chorus followed by a surprise breakneck thrash post-chorus will never get old. This song is metal perfection, which might be why Tiamat would go on to look outside the boundaries of metal ever since.



1994 — Wildhoney


1994. Tiamat's final truly metal album. Tiamat's first truly progressive, psychedelic, and groundbreaking album. One of the absolute classics in metal canon, contested by few. Yep, it's Wildhoney. What can be said about it that hasn't already been said? We have a great staff review by Ivor of it, giving it a well deserved perfect score of 10. It is not a perfect album by any means, though, but I still agree with the rating. The sheer creativity and forward-thinking-ness on display here is shattering.

On Clouds, the heavy use of synth pads in the airier sections to accompany Johan's melancholic grunting barely foreshadow what you'll hear here, if you haven't heard it yet. Over a minute of psychedelic summer vibes that somehow sound like the ineffable album cover art in a nutshell start the album out until the death/doom earthquake that is the main riff of "Whatever That Hurts" finally drops. Keeps dropping. To torturedly whispering words about "overfilled toothpaste tubes" and "cockroaches served with cream". Who knows what makes a riff perfect, but if there's an example of a perfect metal riff, look no further than "Whatever That Hurts". Tiamat surely know this, as they would later write several songs obviously based on this riff.

"Honey tea / Psilocybe Larvae / Honeymoon / Silver spoon / Psilocybe tea / Psilocybe tea"

I'm getting the shivers just writing the words of the chorus down like this. It's that level of memorable. Yep, Johan definitely munched psychedelics at this point. The entire album is a love letter to psychedelic drugs. Hey, these liberty caps are growing all across Sweden in the autumn, so do like Johan and go mushroom picking. Watch out for cops patrolling the cattle meadows, though. Hah. Well, we also have the super-distressing bad-trip synth interlude "25th Floor" and sort of too-mellow romantic closer ballad "A Pocket Size Sun" on here, but they all fit into the context of the excellent opening salvo of the interconnected death/doom pieces of "Whatever That Hurts" and "The Ar", broken up by that creepy interlude and erupting in the anthemic, symphonic extreme metal masterpieces that are "Gaia" and "The Visionaire". The acoustic, folky ballad "Do You Dream Of Me?" is one of my most played, and most sung along to, songs ever, and would have been stellar even without the mind-blowing acoustic shredding that goes on in the guitar solo.

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity to anyone, but it's always worked for me." – Hunter S. Thompson

Maybe don't follow good old Hunter's advice, though, because the naive drug romanticism of Wildhoney is about to take a dark turn… and stay there for a while.




If you look at my profile page, there's this silly little field where one can fill in their favourite album ever, as if there were ever a clear-cut answer for this question. However, the closest approximation to my personal truth is A Deeper Kind Of Slumber. Yeah, it's diverse to a fault, wacky as hell, self-indulgent, preposterous, unfocused, and has some really questionable content both lyrically and musically. It's also astoundingly inventive, admirably convincing, confidently performed, avant-garde, timeless, and one of the most unforgettable pieces of art I've ever encountered.

This is my first, and if needed, only choice for a desert island album. I will listen to it until I die, and it feels like I've heard it since before I was born. Contrary to most other favourites I have, this has nothing to do with memories or associations; the musical and lyrical content is simply tailor-made for my aesthetic sensibilities and personal experiences. I've been meaning to review this album for years, but I can't do it justice. I wrote a gushing review of King Crimson's Red, and I'd happily review most of the albums I consider rating 11/10, but here, words fail me. I don't know where to begin. More importantly, this is not the album where you'll want to begin when getting into Tiamat. You'll want Wildhoney or Amanethes for that.

"What is the universe anyway / But a pouch of silver coins / The intense breathing / Of a dying animal / A foreboding of afterlife / Master keys in oaken chest / The somewhere is mine / And from there I'll continue / All I asked for was a little love"

I'm not supposed to give 6 stars or a 10+ rating to anything. To quote the lyrics to "Mount Marilyn": "Do you really think I care? / Do you think I care at all?" I'll leave this non-explanation as, hopefully, an explanation enough. Words fail me, so just go along with it. I don't even care if you like this album, or even listen to it. A Deeper Kind Of Slumber is ineffable, and that's why I worship it. To death, and possibly beyond.




Alright, if the former album wasn't divisive enough, here is where Tiamat suddenly take a sharp turn for gothic neighbourhoods. Literally. Shit, this band's entire career so far has been more or less an auditory representation of Johan's drugs of choice. Alcohol-fuelled death metal into benzo-quashed death/doom into shroom-munching psychedelia into heroin-bred esoterica…

What's left to imbibe for psychoactive stimulation? Stimulants, of course. "Hot metal and methedrine", to quote Andrew Eldritch on "Lucretia My Reflection" from The Sisters Of Mercy's oeuvre d'or Floodland. Loud, moody gigs akin to the rock equivalent of raves. Preferably in Berlin or Hamburg, according to Johan's lyrics. Yep, what's left is a sharp turn left. Having kicked everyone but himself from the band, and exploited his record label funding of 60 000 kr (drop a zero for the euro equivalent) to do exactly what the hell he wanted on A Deeper Kind Of Slumber, Johan returns with a half-new team and a wildly different direction only hinted at with the gothic metal of "Cold Seed" on the previous album.

The progressivity and avant-garde (and post-rock and trip hop and…) of 1996 have all been dialed back (yet subtly remaining) in favour of danceably suicidal straight-time post-punk beats and karaoke-worthy verse-chorus structures. "Brighter Than The Sun" is a wonderful goth rock banger, "Dust Us Our Fare" is memorably slow and sinister, "As Long As You Are Mine" builds on excellent quasi-disco synthwork, and "Best Friend Money Can Buy" is a beautiful, nostalgic ballad almost on par with aforementioned The Sisters Of Mercy's finest moment "Some Kind Of Stranger" from First And Last And Always, but half of the album falls sort of flat, and the cover of The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil" won't win many accolades in 2022 either. As a stepping stone to the gothy craftsmanship Tiamat would soon provide us, Skeleton Skeletron is nonetheless an essential album, but one that can be skipped until later.



2002 — Judas Christ


How's that for an album title? Cheeky, catchy, totally miserable yet cutely irreverent; this is why I love Johan Edlund. I swear, if I were… nah, his lyrics clearly imply he's into women anyway. Anyway, this is a stellar album title, and the album has got some great songs; it is better than Skeleton Skeletron, and displays a clearly self-defined style within the realm of gothic rock… but it is not a particularly solid album.

“So Much For Suicide” is a Tiamat classic, with lyrics making fun of self-absorbed drug addicts, and “Fireflower” is a wonderful, moody, atmospheric ballad. The rock influences heard already as early as in the guitar solos of The Astral Sleep finally crystallise on Judas Christ, such as in the swinging “I Am In Love With Myself”. The singer-songwriter touches tentatively explored on earlier songs such as “Do You Dream Of Me?” or “Mount Marilyn” also finally crystallise with the Bruce Springsteen-inspired “Heaven Of High” and “Too Far Gone”. However, this is not the band’s finest moment, nor is it even one of the finer moments. We would have to wait one more year for Johan to perfect the mellow, romantic, gothic style he started trying out on Skeleton Skeletron. The album in question would be called…



2003 — Prey


God-damn it, this is a good album. It is an <expletive> good album. Yeah, there’s no metal to be found here (but the metal influences would resurface in 2008), but it all works to the band’s favour. Prey starts off with the timeless gothic rock hit “Cain”, showcasing some of Johan’s most beautiful lyrics yet (and this is one hell of an achievement…):

“If I go, will you follow / Me through the cracks and hollows? / And I would be your Cain / If you would be here now”

That’s just the start of it. The mellow mood of Prey would generally put me off, as I’m not a fan of the kind of crybaby post-prog music exemplified by Antimatter, Porcupine Tree, or later Riverside, but the occult concepts and general fuck-it attitude running through this entire album puts it in a higher echelon entirely.

There is a lot to mention on this album, especially the off-beat vocals driving the title track, and the absolute karaoke-worthy, danceable hit “Carry Your Cross And I’ll Carry Mine”, but nothing compares to “Divided”. “Divided” is very likely the most heartbreakingly beautiful love song ever written, all categories included. The romantic, heartfelt, yet ultimately hopeless lyrics are perfectly combined with the song dynamics; rising from a piano-driven ballad, through a baritone anthemic chorus, into an otherworldly crescendo comprised of the words “I am divided… from love” leading up to orchestral, female backing vocals readying the listener for sublime guitar solo that eventually ends in Johan, a cappella, softly singing:

“I have to say / That all of this time / I’ve waited for someone like you / You are my dream / You are my dream / You are my dream”

It all sounds very cute and romantic, until you realise that the song deals with fear of commitment and failing loyalty. Prey is also where the lyrical themes of Satanism and Thelema beginning to truly become an integral part of Johan’s lyrics; something that would be particularly expounded upon in their undeservedly underrated 2008 album, Amanethes.



2008 — Amanethes


Okay, so Amanethes is one hell of a curveball. For some reason, it is not available on streaming services, which is a damn shame, as it is Tiamat’s most accomplished album since their eternal masterpiece A Deeper Kind Of Slumber. While the years, and three albums, released between 1996 and 2008 were all progressively refining the gothic rock influences with ambient synth work and Pink Floyd-ish guitarwork, Amanethes really pulls the band back towards their extreme metal beginnings in a way I doubt any one fan of this band would have ever expected.

Sure, most of this album is filled with gothic rock anthems; the most notable ones being “Will They Come?”, “Misantropolis”, and the terrifying ballad “Amanes”. About a third of the album is, however, for the first time since the mid-90s, filled with properly extreme metal, which is why I count this album as something of a true return to form and proof of Tiamat’s unending irreverence and inventiveness.

The opening track, “The Temple Of The Crescent Moon”, immediately leads off with double-kick drumming and Johan doing his thrash/deathy first-four-albums voice for the first time in nearly two decades. The second track, “Equinox Of The Gods”, dials it up even further, building on a scathing tremolo riff, tongue-in-cheek Satanic lyrics, black metal screams, and an undeniable atmosphere. The album then winds down into a number of goth ballads, only to come back with “Katarraktis Apo Aima” (Waterfall Of Blood) and “Raining Dead Angels”, that never fail to give me the shivers with their blasphemous, self-conscious lyrics. “Misantropolis” is a proper anthem, and one of this band’s best songs ever, and while a few of the more singer-songwriter-ish cuts such as “Circles” and “Meliae” would go on to be improved on their as-of-yet latest album, Tiamat on Amanethes displays a band completely unconcerned with what anybody else will think; it could be written off as unfocused, but for a band that traversed all of the styles touched on this album and many more, it feels more like an honourable throwback to the band’s entire discography. Heartily recommended.




When I discovered Tiamat, Amanethes had just been released, and I quickly fell in love with pretty much every single song they’d ever recorded. I never expected Johan & Co. to release an album that would go on to be remembered as the biggest highlight of theirs in two decades, but… they did. The Scarred People is a fantastically melancholic, epic, heavy, yet intimate album that dials down the metal traits of Amanethes in favour of a mostly singer-songwriter vibe. Just to prove a point, it even includes two excellent cover songs of Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Paradise".

While the first two tracks might not turn any heads around fully, it’s all proper downhill from there. “384 - Kteis” (Kteis is Greek for pubes, just sayin’) recycles the timeless main riff of Wildhoney’s “Whatever That Hurts” with sinisterly sexual lyrics, and “Radiant Star” and “The Sun Also Rises” including the bluesy, hard-rocking, excellent guitar solo ending them off on “Before Another Wilbury Dies” is a trio of tracks so rememberable that even I cannot ever forget them:

“In Hamburg suburbia / With a girl from Serbia / And all God’s crystal methedrine / And a train to take me back to Berlin / All was smoke and all was dirt / A little Swedish lady came along…”

Andrew Eldritch would be proud, for sure. “Love Terrorists” include some borderline-harsh vocals; beginning with a lovely, catchy lyrical swagger about “On a 42-inch TV screen I watch the tears of Jesus”, but ending in desperate screams akin to the end of “Mount Marilyn” off of A Deeper Kind Of Slumber, repeatedly asking: “Can you hear me? / Can you hear me now?”

The Lana Del Rey cover is much better than the original, which is a damn good song to begin with, and perfectly suits Tiamat’s sensibilities. Before the cover of “Paradise” ends the album, “The Red Of The Morning Sun” amps up the good old Edlund-esoterica to a mid 90s level and is as sinister as it is cosy and beautiful. This is one hell of a good swan song album, should the band decide to call it quits.

“1 part of crystal oxygen / 2 parts of glycerine / 3 parts of cold spring water / To bring back the 4 river daughters / 5 steps out of the black room / With 666 of gloom leaving / 7 seashells on the shore / Whispering 8, 9, 10, and I wanna hear more”




In case it wasn’t obvious, Tiamat is one of my very favourite bands, one of Sweden’s (and possibly metal’s) most influential bands, and the band responsible for both some of my favourite albums and the one definite favourite album of mine of all time. I cannot praise Tiamat enough. To quote myself from earlier, trying to describe A Deeper Kind Of Slumber, to this band and as an ending to this article, I can only kindly ask you to envision what my scatterbrained, talkative brain means when it truly means these three words: “words fail me”.

Start with Wildhoney! Then, for death metal, Clouds; for gothic rock, The Scarred People; for experimental, A Deeper Kind Of Slumber. Then, for more death metal, Therion - Beyond Sanctorum, Amorphis - The Karelian Ishtmus, Sentenced - Shadows Of The Past; for more gothic rock/metal, Fields Of The Nephilim - Mourning Sun, The Sisters Of Mercy - Floodland, The Cure - Pornography; for more experimental, I really don't know any other album like A Deeper Kind Of Slumber - suggestions?

Listen to Tiamat,and discover one of the best and most influential Swedish metal and rock bands we've ever had. Hail Johan Edlund. Over and out.








Written on 01.03.2022 by 100% objective opinions.


Comments

Comments: 26   Visited by: 160 users
01.03.2022 - 09:50
nikarg
Mod
I have enormous love for the first five albums (especially The Astral Sleep, Clouds, and Wildhoney), so the ratings are a bit of a shock to me. I have not given much of a chance to the band after 2000 but it is about time I did, I guess. I will return with a more elaborate comment when I read the entire article and after I have re-listened to the more recent discography. Thanks for this article, man, Tiamat is a special band indeed!
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01.03.2022 - 10:05
X-Ray Rod
Skandino
Joel here clearly flipped the ratings for the first two albums with the last two.

I only owe Clouds, Wildhony and A Deepr Kind Of Slumber. Albums which I like a lot. I have thought about listening to their albums afterwards but never did. But thanks for the article! I'll read it in full this week.
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Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
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01.03.2022 - 11:58
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Cool article but just first 4 albums to me will be OM, rest is not so good.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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01.03.2022 - 12:08
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by nikarg on 01.03.2022 at 09:50

I have enormous love for the first five albums (especially The Astral Sleep, Clouds, and Wildhoney), so the ratings are a bit of a shock to me. I have not given much of a chance to the band after 2000 but it is about time I did, I guess. I will return with a more elaborate comment when I read the entire article and after I have re-listened to the more recent discography. Thanks for this article, man, Tiamat is a special band indeed!


Written by X-Ray Rod on 01.03.2022 at 10:05

Joel here clearly flipped the ratings for the first two albums with the last two.

I only owe Clouds, Wildhony and A Deepr Kind Of Slumber. Albums which I like a lot. I have thought about listening to their albums afterwards but never did. But thanks for the article! I'll read it in full this week.


Ratings, shmatings, but you're right, I did the ratings lastly and in a bit of a hurry, and I'll revise them a bit to better fit the text. I'm giving a lot of praise to especially albums 2 and 3 in the text I do think the quality of song writing is a bit uneven on the early ones, but I love their sound and most of the songs are really good.

Now, both of you, get on with checking out the rest of their stuff, I'm sure you'll find something to like!
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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01.03.2022 - 12:43
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by nikarg on 01.03.2022 at 09:50

I have enormous love for the first five albums (especially The Astral Sleep, Clouds, and Wildhoney), so the ratings are a bit of a shock to me. I have not given much of a chance to the band after 2000 but it is about time I did, I guess. I will return with a more elaborate comment when I read the entire article and after I have re-listened to the more recent discography. Thanks for this article, man, Tiamat is a special band indeed!

I think their later material is over overlooked and underrated, perhaps because it is mostly not metal? Amanethes is a varied album with a bit of everything on offer, try that one!
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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01.03.2022 - 14:26
Redel

Thanks a lot for this article on one of the most important bands for my first experiences with metal in the early 90s. And, man, did I / do I love The Astral Sleep, Wildhoney, and especially Clouds.
We heavily disagree on the ratings but that does not matter at all here for me.
A Getting Into article should not be about the ratings on the single albums, if you ask me, it should take users new to the band by the hand and walk them through the evolution of the band. That is what you have done here.
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01.03.2022 - 15:13
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Redel on 01.03.2022 at 14:26

Thanks a lot for this article on one of the most important bands for my first experiences with metal in the early 90s. And, man, did I / do I love The Astral Sleep, Wildhoney, and especially Clouds.
We heavily disagree on the ratings but that does not matter at all here for me.
A Getting Into article should not be about the ratings on the single albums, if you ask me, it should take users new to the band by the hand and walk them through the evolution of the band. That is what you have done here.

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I agree that an article of this sort is less about rating albums (most of them already have staff reviews here anyway) and more about exactly what you said. I also try to balance my opinions of the albums with their relevance to the "getting into" context... with the exception of A Deeper Kind Of Slumber, but a 6/5 rating is pretty cheeky already (I shall not make a habit out of abusing the ratings this way, pinky promise, but it's my #1 top album of all time and all genres, so what the hell!).

It was good fun writing about the band, they're very essential to me too; especially (as my heretic ratings might suggest) their gothic rock stuff, as it led me to discover a beloved genre of mine outside of metal. I was listening to Suomi metal and gothic rock such as The 69 Eyes before I discovered Tiamat, but this band was the one responsible for me finding out about post-punk, and goth favourites such as The Sisters Of Mercy and, especially, Fields Of The Nephilim.

As for ratings in general, there's a reason why some of us have decided not to use them in reviews. I stick to rating albums in 0.5 intervals, and sometimes find even that too limiting. I know the first batch of albums are pretty much undisputed classics within metal. Their influence cannot be denied, and they're invaluable for the development of the extensive metal scenes of my home country, but I can only rate according to my own relation to them (though there's a margin of error reserved for bonus points for cultural impact, of course), and if being honest to myself, the early 90s Swedish death never resonated with me to the same degree it seems to do with most others, and I've always gravitated back to their experimental mid 90s albums and post-2006 releases.

I listen frequently to both The Astral Sleep[/band] and [i]Clouds and I admire them both a lot (certainly Clouds, as you say); it's just that I admire them more for being so ahead of their time and for their influential impact than the actual music, and I do find both albums having a quite uneven quality throughout. The best tracks off of both (especially "In A Dream", "Mountain Of Doom", and of course "The Sleeping Beauty") all get a max rating from me, though.

I might update the article with some further listening suggestions, actually, and also make a Spotify playlist.
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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01.03.2022 - 15:45
Enemy of Reality
Account deleted
I got into Tiamat back in the late 90s when i went through my gothic metal phase. During this (short) period, bands like Moonspell (Irreligious), Tristania (Widows's Weeds), Theater of Tragedy (Aégis), Therion (Theli), The Gathering (Mandylion), The 3rd and the Mortal (Painting on Glass), Type 0 Negative (Bloody Kisses), My Dying Bride (The Angel and the Dark River) and even Cradle of Filth (Dusk and Her Embrace) among others were in constant rotation on my discman while me and my school friends would stroll downtown Lisbon in our funny long leather coats, boots that hurt our feet and looking as (fakely) depressed as we could, heading towards the local metal bar where we would spend out nights drinking and dancing. Tropes of my pre-adult years. I have fond memories of those days.

Wildhoney was my introduction to them and yeah it's was love at first sight. It was the soundtrack of a specific series of events in my life. I also have a soft spot for Judas Christ, it's full of good songs. Later after seeing them live in 2002 i re-discovered their proto-discography and i like it a lot too, specially Clouds, which remains as my fav albums of theirs. Funnily enough i never enjoyed A Deeper Kind of Slumber that much. There are a couple of cool songs on it, but that's about it.

Clouds 5/5
Wildhoney 5/5
Judas Christ 4/5
The Astral Sleep 4/5
Sumerian Cry 3/5
The Scarred People 3/5
A Deeper Kind of Slumber 3/5
Prey 2,5/5
Skeleton Skeletron 2/5
Amanethes 2/5
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01.03.2022 - 15:56
F3ynman2000
Nocturnal Bro
Just listened to Wildhoney for the first time yesterday - now I saw this article! What are the odds?
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01.03.2022 - 16:10
I haven't listened to Wildhoney in ages yet it's still an album I have fond memories of. Tiamat has always been a band I wanted to listen more of but never got around to, so thanks for publishing this article to motivate me!
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01.03.2022 - 16:11
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Guest on 01.03.2022 at 15:45

I got into Tiamat back in the late 90s when i went through my gothic metal phase. During this (short) period, bands like Moonspell (Irreligious), Tristania (Widows's Weeds), Theater of Tragedy (Aégis), Therion (Theli), The Gathering (Mandylion), The 3rd and the Mortal (Painting on Glass), Type 0 Negative (Bloody Kisses), My Dying Bride (The Angel and the Dark River) and even Cradle of Filth (Dusk and Her Embrace) among others were in constant rotation on my discman while me and my school friends would stroll downtown Lisbon in our funny long leather coats, boots that hurt our feet and looking as (fakely) depressed as we could, heading towards the local metal bar where we would spend out nights drinking and dancing. Tropes of my pre-adult years. I have fond memories of those days.

I'd be depressed walking around in boots that hurt as well, I think. "Whatever That Hurts", eh? Bet it did wonders for that gothy demeanor, hah! Yes, 15-year-old me (exactly half a lifetime ago) could be seen sporting black hair with blood-red stripes, for some reason. I shall refrain from providing photo evidence for this claim.

Your ratings look pretty reasonable to me, though it makes me curious why you'd rate Amanethes as low as Skeleton Skeletron (which I agree is their weakest album, though "Brighter Than The Sun" is their by far most streamed song on Spotify it seems) and Judas Christ so highly over Prey? The former has a bunch of great songs indeed, especially "So Much For Suicide", "Vote For Love", and "Angel Holograms", but I don't think any of them can compete with gems such as "Divided", "Cain", or "Nihil"; is it because it has less rock and more of an atmospheric focus? Could be why you never got into A Deeper Kind Of Slumber either; I admit it is a very weird album, but it somehow lies at the very centre of my music taste (which is, admittedly, also pretty weird).

Written by F3ynman2000 on 01.03.2022 at 15:56

Just listened to Wildhoney for the first time yesterday - now I saw this article! What are the odds?

How did that come about? Well, then you can regard this as a "Keep Getting Into: Tiamat" article! I updated the final paragraph with a playlist and listening order recommendations. If you enjoyed Wildhoney, check out Clouds for a deathier take, The Scarred People for a gothier take, or Amanethes (it's available on YouTube, I think) for something of a snapshot of all their aspects. As expected, most people here disagree with my ratings, so your mileage might vary!

Written by LifelikeAdvisor on 01.03.2022 at 16:10

I haven't listened to Wildhoney in ages yet it's still an album I have fond memories of. Tiamat has always been a band I wanted to listen more of but never got around to, so thanks for publishing this article to motivate me!

Cheers for reading, check out the playlist I added to explore the rest of their work. Lots of good stuff to find!
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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02.03.2022 - 08:37
Enemy of Reality
Account deleted
Written by Netzach on 01.03.2022 at 16:11

Your ratings look pretty reasonable to me, though it makes me curious why you'd rate Amanethes as low as Skeleton Skeletron (which I agree is their weakest album, though "Brighter Than The Sun" is their by far most streamed song on Spotify it seems) and Judas Christ so highly over Prey? The former has a bunch of great songs indeed, especially "So Much For Suicide", "Vote For Love", and "Angel Holograms", but I don't think any of them can compete with gems such as "Divided", "Cain", or "Nihil"; is it because it has less rock and more of an atmospheric focus? Could be why you never got into A Deeper Kind Of Slumber either; I admit it is a very weird album, but it somehow lies at the very centre of my music taste (which is, admittedly, also pretty weird).


My guess would be that i was "musically raised" to like catchy songs and some atmospheric focused albums rarely have that classic verse-chorus structure, so i doubt that was it. I like weird albums, provided they're catchy and memorable. For example i like the weirdness of Arcturus, because while they're weird, they still manage to write memorable songs. While Slumber is weird in a good way, there are not many songs that got stuck in my head, apart from the obvious Cold Seed.
Amanethes and Skeletron have just a couple of songs that i really enjoy, while Judas Christ has at least 7 songs i really love, my favorites are The Return of the Son of Nothing which has a melancholic and doomy feel, i fell in love with this song even more after i saw it live in that 2002 show. And The Truths For Sale which for some reason reminds me of Depeche Mode. The whole album kind of reminds me of 80s goth rock which was a genre that i listened to a lot when i was younger.
As for Prey i like a couple of songs in it as well, Cain would be my favorite, but overall it sounds like a weaker counterpart of Judas Christ.
Overall awesome band, they're supposed to come to Lisbon for an indoor festival called Under the Doom next December where they'll play WIldhoney and Clouds in their entirety, which makes me very happy.
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02.03.2022 - 21:26
Daniell
_爱情_
Finally, someone who sees "Slumber" for what it is, an impeccable masterpiece. Netzach, I salute you!

25 years after its release, I can still put on "Mount Marilyn" and listen to it 10 times in a row. Its sluggish pace and drowsy atmosphere have always, and possibly will always be a perfect soundtrack to a scorching hot summer day. When it's 35 degrees celsius outside and I go out to torture myself by running 10 kilometres in this sweltering heat, the only proper soundtrack for me is "Mount Marilyn".

I love Tiamat through and through, but this album makes me love them to death.
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03.03.2022 - 07:48
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Daniell on 02.03.2022 at 21:26

Finally, someone who sees "Slumber" for what it is, an impeccable masterpiece. Netzach, I salute you!

Finally, someone who sees "Slumber" for what it is, an impeccable masterpiece. Daniell, I salute you!

"Mount Marilyn" indeed. This album makes me completely lose track of time every time I listen to it (and that's pretty often). The absolutely danceable "Cold Seed", eerie "Teonanacatl", badass shift to trip-hop in "The Desolate One", otherworldly "Atlantis As A Lover", mind-bending "Alteration X10", zany "Four Leary Biscuits", suicidally cosy "Only In My Tears It Lasts" (which is actually about an oak that was cut down, hah), misplaced-in-the-best-way-possible "The Whores Of Babylon", alien and meditative "Phantasma De Luxe", fuckin' "Mount Marilyn" indeed, and the ultra-creepily romantic title track...

Good. My faith in humanity is slightly increased. I could listen to this album all day long, every day, until I die prematurely from listening to this album and forgetting to breathe.

Rating: ∞.0
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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03.03.2022 - 10:49
Deadsoulman

Written by Netzach on 03.03.2022 at 07:48

My faith in humanity is slightly increased.


Let me plunge that back into the bottomless pits of Hell where it belongs, will you. In 1997, I came to A Deeper Kind Of Slumber on the sweet fluffy wings of Wildhoney, didn't think much of it and never listened to it again...

...I'll remedy that later today.

As for the rest, well, Wildhoney is up there with the best albums of all time, and I'd rank Clouds and Prey (I'd be happy if Wings Of Heaven were the only song I'm allowed to listen to until the end of time) pretty high too. The other albums are quite good as well, except Skeleton Skeletron (what a borefest) and Amanethes which I remember as one of those instances where a band trying to ressuscitate their past did not work out at all. I haven't listened to it in ages, but I'm a bit surprised you rated it so high.
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03.03.2022 - 15:16
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
I read it 2 times and I might say maybe best ever written in getting into article series.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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03.03.2022 - 16:27
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Deadsoulman on 03.03.2022 at 10:49

Written by Netzach on 03.03.2022 at 07:48

My faith in humanity is slightly increased.


Let me plunge that back into the bottomless pits of Hell where it belongs, will you. In 1997, I came to A Deeper Kind Of Slumber on the sweet fluffy wings of Wildhoney, didn't think much of it and never listened to it again...

...I'll remedy that later today.

As for the rest, well, Wildhoney is up there with the best albums of all time, and I'd rank Clouds and Prey (I'd be happy if Wings Of Heaven were the only song I'm allowed to listen to until the end of time) pretty high too. The other albums are quite good as well, except Skeleton Skeletron (what a borefest) and Amanethes which I remember as one of those instances where a band trying to ressuscitate their past did not work out at all. I haven't listened to it in ages, but I'm a bit surprised you rated it so high.

Ah, well, this "faith" scam was fun while it lasted. No worries, I did not actually get my hopes up for humanity. Seriously though, it is the only album I wouldn't think twice about turning my rating "up to 11" and tell everyone who complains to get their brains replaced. I think it is that good. I think it is that much better than anything else I've ever heard. I think it is... shit, you get the point. Earlier today, I listened to it together with Radu, and he ended up rating it a 10, saying "

I'm glad you're voting some love for Prey. I used to overlook the album for a decade or so, writing it off as too mellow, post-proggy, and boring, but finally something just made it click with me. "Wings Of Heaven" is such a pretty song! I can't honestly relate to its "one-night stand" theme (if you've got another interpretation, shoot), but it's got some of Johan's best lyrics on it too; cutely poetic while minimalistic, and contrasting light and darkness in a very poignant way. I don't dislike any Prey track, though, and while my favourite is definitely "Divided" (also a favourite of mine to cover on piano, hah!), "Cain", "Carry Your Cross...", "Prey", "Nihil"... ah, they're all excellent and impossible to get enough of.

"Blame my cloven hooves, if I sink what does it prove, I'll always be your prey..."
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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03.03.2022 - 16:28
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Bad English on 03.03.2022 at 15:16

I read it 2 times and I might say maybe best ever written in getting into article series.

Oh, that warms my balls! Tusen tack
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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03.03.2022 - 16:51
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by Netzach on 03.03.2022 at 16:28

Written by Bad English on 03.03.2022 at 15:16

I read it 2 times and I might say maybe best ever written in getting into article series.

Oh, that warms my balls! Tusen tack

Wrong g place, come here, my balls is in snow
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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03.03.2022 - 17:41
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Bad English on 03.03.2022 at 16:51

Wrong g place, come here, my balls is in snow

We have some snow left here too, but it didn't occur to me to go around tea-bagging snow piles around the city. Seems like a generally frowned upon activity.
----
"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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03.03.2022 - 17:47
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Written by X-Ray Rod on 01.03.2022 at 10:05

Joel here clearly flipped the ratings for the first two albums with the last two.

Very much agreed. Sumerian Cry and Astral Sleep are by far my favorites from Tiamat, though I recognize that this opinion is not the norm.

Despite disagreeing with your ratings, love the article Joel. Will have to revisit A Deeper Kind Of Slumber and see if my opinions have changed
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03.03.2022 - 18:17
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Netzach on 03.03.2022 at 16:27

Earlier today, I listened to it together with Radu, and he ended up rating it a 10, saying "

It is true, I said that
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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03.03.2022 - 20:34
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by Netzach on 03.03.2022 at 17:41

Written by Bad English on 03.03.2022 at 16:51

Wrong g place, come here, my balls is in snow

We have some snow left here too, but it didn't occur to me to go around tea-bagging snow piles around the city. Seems like a generally frowned upon activity.

Pocet size sun.... To late April, early may... Its snow left.
. The northernmost Voyage
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
06.03.2022 - 00:34
Lanthros

I really can only disagree with one thing here. I'd rate Skeleton Skeletron MUCH higher. It's still one of my 3 go to albums when I'm extremely depressed. Along with The Sisters of Mercy's First and Last and Always and Sentenced's The Comd White Light.

But I can understand the rating. But I can understand the rating. It was a weird and awkward transitional album.
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08.03.2022 - 12:21
Duck Dodgers

I always felt that there is a very special understanding between people who like Tiamat. You either get them or not.
Could not agree more about the Slumber album. Both musically and lyrically.
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08.03.2022 - 15:17
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Lanthros on 06.03.2022 at 00:34

I really can only disagree with one thing here. I'd rate Skeleton Skeletron MUCH higher. It's still one of my 3 go to albums when I'm extremely depressed. Along with The Sisters of Mercy's First and Last and Always and Sentenced's The Comd White Light.

Ah, I used to like it a lot more, but after delving further into goth rock I started to find it very uneven. There are some great tunes on it, though, particularly "Brighter Than The Sun" (of course), "To Have And Have Not", and "Best Friend Money Can Buy". The two albums you mentioned are both fantastic, though I think Floodland is slightly better than the debut, actually. Love the surreal atmosphere on it.

Written by Duck Dodgers on 08.03.2022 at 12:21

I always felt that there is a very special understanding between people who like Tiamat. You either get them or not.
Could not agree more about the Slumber album. Both musically and lyrically.

Sure, at least for their non-metal albums. The earlier ones are pretty well-established classics and integral pieces of the Stockholm death scene. I'm happy to finally find other ...Slumber fans, was starting to believe I was nearly alone in worshipping it! The lyrics on that one are something else, indeed. Obviously filled with drug romanticism, but of a very hopeless kind, but also a eulogy about a cut-down oak tree ("Only In My Tears It Lasts") among other things, hah... In my vinyl reissue booklet, Johan writes a bit about each of the songs, I can share it with you if you're interested. Probably available online somewhere as well.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
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"I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I have DONE IT!"
- Sarevok Anchev
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