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Amorphis - "Silent Waters" (CD)

Amorphis - "Silent Waters" CD cover image

"Silent Waters" track listing:

1. Weaving the Incantation (4:57)
2. A Servant (3:55)
3. Silent Waters (4:49)
4. Towards and Against (4:59)
5. I of Crimson Blood (5:05)
6. Her Alone (6:01)
7. Enigma (3:34)
8. Shaman (4:55)
9. The White Swan (4:49)
10. Black River (3:45)
11. Sign (4:33)

Reviewed by on August 12, 2008

"This epic masterpiece manages to highlight Amorphis’ progressive songwriting while the mythological elements make this a uniquely Finnish death metal experience."

Amorphis’ eighth studio album “Silent Waters,” flows in the vein of its predecessors, continuing the story of the Finnish epic poem Kalevala. This time the album centers on the hero Lemminkäinen, and the gist of the story is Lemminkäinen sets off for an adventure. Before he leaves he informs his mother that blood seeping from his hairbrush signifies his demise. He heads north for Pohjola, whose queen, Louhi, sends him to complete three tasks in order to win her daughter. Lemminkäinen meets his demise as he attempts to complete his last task hunting the white swan of Tuonela, the River of Death. Back at home, Lemminkäinen’s shaman mother finds the blood flowing from the hairbrush. She travels to Pohjola to search for her deceased son and Louhi tells the mother he is at Tuonela. The mother seeks help from the gods to forge an iron rake to dredge Tuonela of her son’s remains so she can put him back together and bring him back to life. Lemminkäinen then returns home with his mother.

Musically, “Silent Waters” is teeming with intricate song structures. The first track, “Weaving the Incantation,” starts with waves of crushing riffs and powerful, angst ridden death metal growls. Both elements overflow and surge on to the next song, halting abruptly at the melancholic piano intro to “Silent Waters.” The piano in “I of Crimson Blood” gives the song a serene, ambient mood while “Black Water” sets a mournful tone. Amorphis then streams towards a folksy sound in the acoustic “Enigma.” The vocals in “Enigma” are clean with a choir like chorus. The blends of piano with acoustic guitar and of spoken words with somber singing in “Black River” add a touch of bittersweet sorrow as Lemminkäinen reflects back on his journey. There is also a hint of jazz influence to the song, although not as apparent as “Crimson Wave” from the album “Am Universum.” “Black River” would have made a great conclusion for the album, if it were not for the bonus track, “Sign.”

Vocalist Tomi Joutsen’s varying degrees of vocal styles have improved substantially since his debut in 2006’s “Eclipse.” Joutsen strategically bases his vocals on each song’s narrator and emotional tone. Songs in the violent and aggressive Lemminkäinen’s point of view would mostly be done in enraged, bellowing death metal. Yet when Lemminkäinen describes his relationship with his mother in the ballad “Her Alone,” Joutsen opts for clean singing. Joutsen chooses emotional vocals when singing in the mother’s point of view to express her sadness for the loss of her son and harsh near thrash yells when she is shouting to the gods for help or at Louhi for the location of her son.

This epic masterpiece manages to highlight Amorphis’ progressive songwriting while the mythological elements make this a uniquely Finnish death metal experience. The band manages to convey emotion without being overly sentimental, creating a sonic landscape of contrasting dark and bleak segments interspersed with warmer uplifting moments. Although some songs sound repetitive at times, overall “Silent Waters” is an enjoyable experience.

Highs: Tomi Joutsen's varying clean, harsh and death metal vocals.

Lows: A few songs tend to sound the same.

Bottom line: If you like epic storytelling in a progressive death metal setting, this is the album for you.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)