Review by Luka on June 3, 2002.
Tiamat kinda lost me with their last two albums, particularly the gaunt, mainstream "Skeleton Skeletron" venture in 1999. Such a risky and radical change is usually either the first landmark to a very bright future for a band or the first nail to their coffin, but as the incredibly catchy 'Vote For Love' track plays right now on my tenth spin of "Judas Christ", I've resolved that Tiamat are heading in a good direction with a distinct sound and style all their own.
If you want to get high without having to take any illegal substance then let "Judas Christ" be your drug of choice. On "Skeleton Skeletron" Edlund & Co. seemed to be high on fame and fortune but this time they're high on something else, and if song titles like 'Heaven of High' and 'Love is as Good as Soma' (Soma is a hallucinogenic drink) don't give you a hint about the mellow sound of the new album, my own interpretation of "modern stoner rock" should.
While opening and finishing with very sad songs, the mood of the album is generally one of peaceful, friendly relaxation; a sort of melancholic euphoria that brings a tear to your eye and a smile to your face. The type of album where participation by the listener is minimal and you can just lie down, close your eyes and let yourself drift. The aforementioned 'Love is as Good as Soma' is a perfect example, and songs like 'The Truth's For Sale' and 'I'm in Love With Myself' break the mid-tempo flow with a more upbeat mode to wake you up if you've drifted too far, and as a famous Tiamat trademark, there's always a few strange and exotic songs like 'Summer by Night' that belong in the album but at the same time don't really fit anywhere.
I think Tiamat and their fellow Swedes from Marduk ought to switch band names. According to Ancient Babylonian mythology from which both groups took their names, Tiamat was the dragon of Evil while Marduk was the heroic dragon of Good who vanquished him in the end. Suffice to say the facts are completely reversed in the metal scene. Tiamat have grown into one of the weirdest and most fascinating bands in heavy metal history. I salute them.
Bottom Line: The most mellow and serene form of Tiamat you can imagine. A gratifying work of art and definitely worth picking up for those who, like Tiamat, tend to wander outside of the metal world.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.5 out of 10