AMORPHIS: SILENT WATERS (2007)
1) Weaving The Incantation; 2) A Servant; 3) Silent Waters; 4) Towards And Against; 5) I Of Crimson Blood; 6) Her Alone; 7) Enigma; 8) Shaman; 9) The White Swan; 10) Black River; 11*) Sign.
Here is what I think happened. The mainstream metal press liked the direction that Amorphis took with Eclipse and spewed forth lots of positive reviews. The band members liked the direction that the mainstream metal press took with their reviews, and spewed forth Eclipse Vol. 2, without changing a doggone thing. For only the second time in their career, the band gave us two albums that sounded completely identical. But at least Tuonela and Ad Universum had all their little musical flourishes that made each album enjoyable.
Silent Waters, on the other hand, shares all the flaws of Eclipse without ever trying to improve on them. Yes, lovers of Finnish folklore may be interested in following the songs, because, once again, they draw their atmospheric and textual inspiration from the Kalevala, this time writing a song cycle centered around the story of the death and resurrection of Lemminkäinen, the big Hercules-type hero of the epic poem. It's a fine story in its own rights, but one that, the way I see it, deserves to be set to much more interesting music.
I admit, however, that it may not so much be the actual melodies here that I dislike so much as the overall setting. Several of the songs still feature well-crafted riffs; but they are all encrusted into this awful noise setting which is supposed to add power, but, in my case at least, adds nothing but distraction — and an occasional headache. Somehow, in the past, these guys were able to get by on riffpower alone; what the heck made them think every goddamn song must have this interminable bland «roaring» at its foundation?
Also, as much as Kallio tries to help by adding classical piano passages to songs, it does not work, because the piano only very rarely acts as an integral component of the song. At best, e. g. on the title track, we start out with a nice minor key intro, then, with the guitars breaking their way in, the piano recedes into the background and becomes just a moody echo effect to all the roaring. At worst, you just cannot hear the piano at all, even when it's actually there. And are there any other keyboards played? If there were, I don't remember.
A few songs sort of «stand out» by employing user-friendlier production techniques. On 'Towards Ang Against', for instance, the band toys with electronics and danceable drum beats, but the effect is, to put it mildly, rather questionable. Not sure if these things work so well with the song's dark riff and growling vocals. For some reason, «Rob Zombie» and similar silly commercialized crap comes to mind. Not the most correct association, perhaps, but there it is, and it is not welcome. 'Enigma' is the only song on the album to be carried throughout on a folksy acoustic pattern, but for some reason it also bores the hell out of me — maybe it's because I've heard that pattern a thousand times already?
Thumbs down. At this juncture, it almost looks like Amorphis have just passed the point of no return: a band that, at one time, almost invented an entirely new type of music, now content themselves with recycling a dull, predictable formula. If anything, it belies and belittles their own frickin' name. I'd suggest a rechristening as Cacomorphis, and choosing Captain Hook as their mascot, but it's not as if I'm getting paid for this, so whatever.
P.S. If you are a metalhead, don't take my word on the album by any means — apparently, most fans just love the record. Perhaps years of listening to heavy music result in one's ears naturally developing some sort of sludge filter. Me, I'm still in training.
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