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Amorphis- Elegy (Review)
Amorphis have changed remarkably over the years, starting off as a death metal band and morphing into more of a prog rock/metal band. “Elegy” is their third release, and it’s their first to really experiment with progressive rock elements. There’s still plenty of death metal to be found in the release, but clean vocalizations and ultra-melodic guitar portions are used to a much greater extent. The first three Amorphis albums are their best, and “Elegy” is no exception to the trend of greatness. It’s an enthralling album, finishing what was started on “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”.
A lot of the instrumentation in “Elegy” is reminiscent of progressive rock music. There’s heavy keyboard use and prominent clean vocals. The riffs are also highly melodic, kind of like taking your typical prog rock riffs and distorting them. Speaking of the guitars, they are great. Think bluesy leads mixed in with great metal riffing. Oftentimes, the lead guitar will really stick out in the mix with a quick solo or riff. There are also different effects used on the guitars, which wasn’t something Amorphis had experimented with at the time. Clean guitar portions are used only a little, but they have a great effect. Another notable thing about the guitars is that they often harmonize with each other or with the keys to make a great double effect. They are very relaxed and loose sounding, which adds to the feeling of the music. Vocally, this might be the strongest Amorphis album. Their original vocalist (and rhythm guitarist), Tomi, is the best harsh vocalist the band had. He splits vocals with Pasi, who was new at the time and performed clean vocals on several Amorphis albums. He also does a variation of harsh vocals, and excels at both. It is due to this combination that the vocals are so enjoyable on “Elegy”. The bass is actually improved from their previous album, and makes several enjoyable appearances throughout the album. The drums are similar, in that they’re very solid throughout with a few shining moments. The keyboards play a much larger role in the music than on any prior Amorphis release, yet the guitars are still the dominant instrument. The keys are not overbearing, nor do they dominate the mix. They are tastefully added to enhance the melodies and atmosphere, very well done indeed.
“Elegy” is a much happier sounding album than “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”. Instead of reminding me of winter like that album, “Elegy” conjures up visions of beautiful summer landscapes. Such atmospheres are relatively uncommon in metal music, and Amorphis have done a very good job with this atmosphere. The songs are so well crafted that it’s hard to believe. Every component melds together, and it makes the album seem very natural- something that a lot of progressive bands can’t seem to do. I’ve already mentioned the relaxed feeling in the guitars, but this is what really makes the album flow so well. The album also sounds rather optimistic and upbeat, despite making use of death growls and heavy guitars. I don’t know if this was the band’s intent, but that’s the way it comes across. Most of the songs are somewhat similar, with powerful verses and great choruses. There are many incredible instrumental passages found throughout, like in “The Orphan” and “Weeper on the Shore”. I can honestly say that every melody is a standout.
There is not a bad song to be found on “Elegy”. “My Kantele” is the hit song, with an opening riff that I just love. In fact, I just love the whole song. There’s an acoustic version at the end which is always interesting to hear, even if I prefer the heavy version. The other hit is “Against Widows” and it’s one of my favorites from the whole album. The riffs are so great, and the chorus is brilliant. “On Rich and Poor” was an early favorite for me, and it’s another with a really good chorus. I believe it was the first song I heard from the album. “Cares” was also one of the first songs I heard from the album, and I still enjoy it like I did the first time I heard it. The verse is wonderful, with some of the best growls on the whole album. It also has some very relaxing clean parts. “Weeper on the Shore” is one of my absolute favorites from the album. There’s this great riff about halfway into it that just keeps building and the guitars are great throughout the song. It’s up there as one of Amorphis’s best songs. “Song of the Troubled One” is another brilliant song, with some keyboards that actually remind me a bit of Dream Theater. “The Orphan” has a very relaxing vibe, especially at the beginning. It’s the most ballad-like song on the whole release. The guitar harmonies towards the end are simply gorgeous. “Elegy” is a beautiful piece, with a notable piano intro. It’s also the longest song on the album. “Relief” is the instrumental of the album, with a notable addictive guitar melody. It has some of the most fascinating keyboard work on the whole release. “Better Unborn”, the opener, is also a really great tune. There’s a distinct Egyptian feel to the intro, something that was carried over from “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”.
In all truth, I think that “Elegy” is a fine item for any CD collection. I recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed Amorphis before. It’s similar to “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”, but lighter and more progressive. It’s always an exciting listen, and it’s truly a unique album. People who like both prog metal and death metal should eat this up. This is how to make a progressive death metal album and tastefully combine both elements without drawing too much from one influence. I don’t give it a full 100/100 because it just doesn’t measure up to certain albums that I would award that score to, and there’s not that much variation from song to song. It’s still one of the high points of its genre, and an album that I will certainly listen to for a long time. Highly recommended and probably the second best Amorphis release.
Best songs: “Against Widows”, “On Rich and Poor”, “My Kantele”, “Cares”, “Song of the Troubled One”, “Weeper On the Shore”, “Elegy”, and “Relief”.
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This review was originally posted by me at: http://theheavyreview.blogspot.com/2012/04/amorphis-elegy.html.