In fact, calling myself a fan is an understatement. Tiamat is without a doubt my favorite band ever. I've been listening to them ever since my younger brother first picked up a copy of their 1994 release Wildhoney. They were still in the transition from death metal on that album, though Johan had They started out as a death metal band but quickly evolved into something much deeper and more refined. Their 1996 release A Deeper Kind of Slumber was far more sedate and downkey, with the metal elements barely recognizable. Skeleton Skeletron (1999) showed the band catching it's sound by the horns, mixing dark gothic and atmospheric metal into an unholy alchemy of gloom and speed. Subsequent albums have continued this trend, with Prey (2000), Judas Christ (2003), and Amanethes (2008). This video is from the 1999 release Skeleton Skeletron and, in my opinion, is the most indicative of the groups sound and style.
Tiamat is the creative product of Swedish musician Johan Edlund--the skinny bald guy in the video. I've talked to Johan a couple of times and he's a pretty decent guy. In addition to music, he's a talented artist. One of his paintings is used as the cover for the Tiamat compilation/best of album Commandments. Johan also has a side band, Lucyfire, but they've only released one album. It would be nice if they released more, as I really enjoyed The Dollar Saved My Life at Whitehorse. So, Johan, if you're reading this...nudge. I'll even fly to Greece and record it with you, if I can drag myself away from ALL THESE BOOK SIGNINGS...*sighs*
After a four-year wait, Tiamat released The Scarred People, a fantastic album that I've been listening to non-stop. It is dangerously close to edging out Skeleton Skeletron as my favorite Tiamat album of all time. Johan's voice is mesmerizing and dark, the production is downright mystical. Everything mixes together brilliantly. If pressed to pick favorite tracks, I'd say it's a toss up between 384 and Born to Die, the latter of which is for some reason labeled a bonus track on the album. Also included as a bonus are live versions of Cain and Divided from Prey. The songs a connectable to one another, but stand out well enough that you can mix them in with other songs in a music library shuffle. Johan actually sings on this one, like he has ever since Wildhoney. The growls are completely gone, having only popped up occasionally on a couple of tracks between Skeleton Skeletron and Amanethes...though they did make a notable comeback on some of the older tracks on Commandments and in the re-releases of Tiamat's older albums. I'm not exactly opposed to growling vocals, a lot of bands I like use them, but I prefer Tiamat without them. Johan's voice is anguished and deep, almost liquid. This is probably some of his finest vocal work yet.
You can order or download a copy of The Scarred People from Amazon, or get some neat collectors sets directly from the label.
This video is from the title track of Tiamat's newest album. It does a good job capturing the low, grumbling darkness of the album.