Бездна (meaning: The Abyss) is a 2012 studio album released by the Armenian metal act most commonly known as Ambehr, although the album, as with the band’s third release, Чёрная дорога (2007), has been released under the translated name of Амбер, most likely to reflect that unlike the album’s released as Ambehr the lyrics are not in English. Ambehr (which I’m going to use in this review for easiness) have had something of an eclectic career, starting with thrash, moving onto death, before producing Чёрная дорога, a folk metal album. For their fourth album, Amber Dreamland (2011), they played power metal. Бездна, as with Чёрная дорога, is a folk metal release, although traces of power metal may be found during its relatively short duration.
Бездна is nine songs of music that lasts for a little over a half hour. The common factor of the music is folk melodies over metal riffs, with a mix of male and female vocals. The male vocalist, Art, is the more dominate of the pair, which is pretty unusual for these types of acts where for better or worse most focus is on the female vocalist. Бездна is my first proper encounter with the music of Ambehr so I can’t say if it is normal for the group to use this sort of male lead, female backing vocal configuration, however on Бездна it has worked for the group as Art’s vocals are well suited to the folksy songs, while Marina’s (Art’s sister) vocals provide an interesting take on the harmonies that work pretty well in context with the folk parts of the music.
The folk melodies on the album are a bit of a mixed bag unfortunately. While they are generally good overall some are better than others which means while song songs stand out as being pretty good compositions, others are highlighted as being noticeably weaker and there is also a very clear picking up of the pace for the album when the third track, Пролито много слёз, kicks in, although this is more to do that the metal side of things is more fuelled by power metal on this song. On that subject though I’m actually left less impressed with the metal than I am with the folk. While the riffs serve well enough to give the folk melodies a bit of bite there is nothing particularly noteworthy to be found on the metal side of things and while in folk metal I wouldn’t say that is the most important thing to look for, the folk is simply not good enough to make up for it in this case. Сердце and Добрый лось are a couple of the better metal dominate tracks but even so we’re not talking a performance that is ever going be noted for having wow factor. Ambehr show themselves competent on Бездна, but although the album is ultimately enjoyable with nothing bad to be found per se, I find myself unable to shake the impression that a spark is missing somewhere. Even so Бездна is a good album and deserves recognition as such. And honestly the more I listen to this the more I appreciate how awesome the brother and sister vocal combination of Art and Marina actually is.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))