The most off-putting thing about The Amsterdam Red Light District is – obviously – that unwieldy name which has undoubtedly placed them in the same grouping as idiotic crunkcore ingrates like Eskimo Callboy or The Medic Droid as far as public perception is concerned, and thus has seen any sort of succes swiftly yanked away from them. In reality, this French quartet fall much closer to the midpoint between While She Sleeps and letlive. in their mixing of creative, melodic hardcore with thunderous metal riffing that really does make for an exhilarating listen. The fact that their 2014 album Gone For A While garnered the critical acclaim it did shows that, beyond their ridiculous name, TARLD do have the tricks up their sleeves to make them a legitimately good band.
As for Sapere Aude, the band are casting their net out a lot further, attacking a culture of consumerism, materialism and corruption all while inspired by Immanuel Kant’s 1784 essay Answering The Question: What Is Enlightenment?, even deriving the album’s title from the motto of the movement. That’s a pretty hefty source to draw from as far as any band is concerned, but even with the lyrical false start of Nobody Moves Like You, the tone of what to expect is set early on, namely swaggering metallic onslaughts brimming with character and firepower. It’s not quite as good as Gone For A While was – instrumentally it can feel a little bloated or too dense to the point where it would be nice if the runtime was stretched out a bit – but Sapere Aude is a compelling, creative listen all the same. Just take the closing title track for the best example of TARLD’s creativity, formed from splicing together voice clips of controversial and scandalous figures, simply as a means of underlining their point of just how corrupt the world really is.
But where Sapere Aude really shines is how, unlike so many other socially conscious albums where what’s being said needs to be taken in for any real enjoyment, TARLD are an explosive, powerful force on their own. As blatant as the sociopolitical frameworks of Wild Life and Evil Stakeholders are, but tied together by Elio Sxone’s vocals and Maxxx’s guitar work, both of which are as frantic and scrappy as each other, there’s no sense of restraint or anything stifling the white-hot frenzy that TARLD whip up. Even when dipping into more prominent low-end grooves like on Over The Fence and The Whole City Burns, that frenetic heaving is still there in earnest, bringing in Sxone’s rasping cleans that only serve to up the power even more.
Even if Sapere Aude isn’t representative of TARLD operating to the peak of their abilities, this is still a remarkably meaty listen that has plenty to delve into as it is. As an album that’s all too likely to go overlooked, Sapere Aude represents the hungry, angry side of hardcore and metal that deserves to get so much more attention than it inevitably will; just look at Gone For A While, an even better album that also got ignored by virtually everyone. This is by no means a slump though, and sees TARLD continue to represent just how vital and dynamic this sort of hardcore can be.
For fans of: Refused, letlive., While She Sleeps
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Sapere Aude’ by The Amsterdam Red Light District is released on 2nd March on Red Light Records.