Some bands just have a good first impression on your senses. Their music doesn’t have to work very hard to make its way into your mind, as opposed to bands that have such complex music that multiple listens are required. Amberfield has a great sound that you will immediately “get”, and their debut album “Said.”, which released on June 15th, will grab you immediately with its energy and ambition.
Amberfield hails from Germany. The band consists of Hannah Witt on vocals, Sebastian Schleicher on guitars, Karsten Mroszczok on keys, Natalie Dröge on bass, and Dennis Degen on drums. I’m really impressed with these musicians, especially the strength of Sebastian’s guitar style, the atmospheric nature of Karsten’s keys, and the driving factor of Natalie’s bass and Dennis’ drums.
The musical style here is definitely a more modern take on progressive rock. It feels fresh and new, not really relying on any specific influences to bring it all together. It features some very strong guitar-driven rhythms, sometimes bordering on riffing, but the album only touches on progressive metal slightly. The band does seem to focus on clean, catchy vocal hooks; giving us something to grasp in each and every song. I would also say there is a strong 90s alternative rock element here, especially in specific songs, like “Couldn’t Care Less”. Their sound, overall, is not that cohesive, which is what they wanted, I think, but it also ends up being something of a problem. So, while the ambition shows, I’m not so sure that the end results equal the sum of the parts.
I’ll come right out and say that this debut is a solid success; offering clean cut energy, fresh ideas, and music that isn’t pigeon-holed into a single genre. It’s also obvious that this is a debut, as some of the ideas are not fully matured, and many of the songs sound pretty similar. I chalk that up to being a first outing, and it is totally normal. The second half of the album does seem to drag compared to the first half, despite the album only being around 45 minutes long, but I am confident that problems like this will be fixed as the band matures and grows. So, with their sound not being all that cohesive, some of the tracks in the second half start to be a bit fatiguing, even though the elements being included are wonderful.
I must say, though, that Hannah has something of an unconventional voice. She can come across as pure and clear one moment, and then raw and sincere the next. She may be the first female singer that I would compare to some males singers, like Eddie Vedder and Gavin Rossdale, but even those comparisons don’t really describe her voice well, just the general quality. It’s a good sound, though I would be the first to admit that she does seem to resort to a specific set of notes quite often. That said, she has unbelievable high notes, and she isn’t afraid to try different things, like the rapping on “Fourteen”. Her lyrics also offer the same mix of clean and raw, and are written quite well.
As you can imagine, my favorite tracks are in the first half, though the final track “Red and White”, is a very good send off, too. That said, let’s talk about my favorites. “Steady Brake” is a fantastic opener with real energy and probably my favorite chorus on the album: It literally ripples with excitement and ambition. “Couldn’t Care Less” has some very 90s alt rock vibes to it, and I love the spacey atmosphere that contrasts with the gritty chorus. A sweet keyboard solo that feels absolutely divine comes in near the end. I also really like “Acardiac”, which also feels 90s to the core. I completely love the subtle keyboard work along with the very well written lyrics.
We’ve all heard debuts, and many are indeed on a different level. Many, however, offer a glimpse at the potential the band has, and I believe that is where Amberfield’s debut lies. This album is a great piece of artistry with some very impressive moments, but I do feel the structure and variety within the album could be tweaked and ordered to greater effect. I look forward to seeing what this band produces next!