Existence of Trauma is the fourth full-length album from Finnish thrash metal act Am I Blood, and it is their first since 2001’s The Truth Inside the Dying Sun. I gather from what I read online that the band has been messed around by record labels, which has delayed this album somewhat, but it’s finally been released, and as a free download at that, and who needs more incentive than that to give Am I Blood’s latest offering a listen?
The core of Am I Blood’s sound is thrash metal, but they also have a lot of more melodic sections that strike me as more traditional heavy metal orientated. This is often heard in their chorus sections. I like this about the album as it gives the music more than one dimension, which makes it a lot more enjoyable to my ears since I think it’s all too easy for thrash acts to focus on speed and lack melodic ideas, which I find often makes their albums repetitive and generic. Am I Blood avoids this though and combines the best of both worlds and I especially like the fact that they have an actual singer and not a ‘shouter’ type, although there are some such vocals included, they’re used tastefully and effectively. To be honest there’s something of the same sort of quality as James Hetfield in Am I Blood’s singer Janne Kerminen, so I expect this release/band will appeal to those more into Metallica’s vein of thrash metal.
Existence of Trauma is a very good thrash metal album and for me personally I’m very surprised at how much I like it, since thrash and I don’t mix very often. Maybe it’s because this isn’t typical thrash metal at all, with songs such as Devil of Your Head sounding like, most the most part, straight up classic traditional metal (this is one hell of a catchy song). There’s also some use of synths/keyboards in the music, which gives it a minor symphonic flavour, something that is heard particularly well in Hangin' Till My Head Is Numb. The band clearly knows the value of melody both in the vocals and the music (the soft melodic chorus of The Dawn Became Their Pride is amazing), which prevents Existence of Trauma from becoming an aggression fest. There is also plenty of impressive lead guitar to be had and several songs which stand out as highlights, including aforementioned tracks Devil of Your Head, The Dawn Became Their Pride and Hangin' Till My Head Is Numb, as well as opener Are You Alive and the closing piece Sin Of Believer.
Coming from someone who doesn’t really like thrash metal that much, Existence of Trauma is easily the best thrash album I’ve heard for some time. It wasn’t a predictable listen and the fact that this can be downloaded for free just makes it all the sweeter. Seriously are you looking for an invitation? Just go get it!
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 8.5/10)