Monday, November 20, 2006

Bright Summer Afternoon ...

I remember as an impressionable youth watching Much Music's Power Hour (when it was on a decent time 4 pm as opposed to whenever later on.) and I saw the music video for Amorphis's "Black Winter Day". This was the coolest thing I'd had ever seen. At this point I was listening to Slaughter (hair band), Dream Theater and Savatage and such. I was only starting to explore thrash via "borrowed" tapes from my stepbro so Amorphis was totally new to me. This was my first exposure to extreme metal. I talked about the video and song for years cause it would be years before I got around to actually buying the album "Tales From A Thousand Lakes".

Now before I go on, I know Amorphis are referred to as doom death metal, but the folk influences are unmistakable. The melodic solo riff work throughout the songs and Finnish style folk melodies and folklore lyrics (In this case the Finnish national epic "The Kalevala"). I can honestly say that this album was pivotal in my exploration of Folk/Viking metal.

"Tales Of A Thousand Lakes" is a phenomenal album start to finnish (heehee). It begins with the melodic mood setting piano piece "Thousand Lakes". It is sweet with a brooding edge and hypnotic female vocals. The folky style songs are "Into Hiding" which is dark and heavy and uses some clean vocals. "The Castaway" is a little faster and sweetly brooding. After a folky solo bridge the song ends with a passionate, majestic outro. And "Black Winter Day" with its piano intro and melodic riff work, its dark and moody.

The doom comes out on tracks "First Doom" which is heavy and rhythmic, reminiscent of Cathedral. "Forgotten Sunrise" has a killer riff and dark keyboards, with a touch of hope in the guitar solo.

The stand out songs are "Drowned Maid" which features all elements of folk,doom and death metal yet stays very uplifting. It is also a very sing along song which is nice to see in death metal. And the afore mentioned "Into Hiding" and "Forgotten Sunrise" both are among my faves, but in the end I'd have to say that "Black Winter Day" will always hold a special place for me and I honour it by making it my favourite track here.

I should note too that the last song is quite unique. "Magic And Mayhem" is folky death metal song that breaks into an almost technoy beat with bass and drums. The chunky guitar work keeps it from becoming too cheesy and leaves it more industrial like. But it certainly is interesting.

Amorphis' early work to me is their better material and Tomi Koivusaari vocals are distinct and brutal. Thanks to Jose whose reviews of later Amorphis work helped in encouraging me to check the later stuff out and though it's not quite the same, it still is good metal. Those reviews will be another time. I have to say that "Tales Of A Thousand Lakes" is my favourite Amorphis album because it embraces all elements of good crunchy metal riffing, melodic solos and keyboards and brutal vocals. Just damn fine song crafting.

Up next, I had thought Finntroll was brutal, but then I bought Asmegin's album ...


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