Amorphis - _Silent Waters_
(Nuclear Blast, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
Make it 2 for 2 for the resurgent Tomi Joutsen-helmed incarnation of stalwart veterans Amorphis; _Silent Waters_ is, if not -the- best Amorphis album, then at least the most artistically well rounded. Most bands on a major label benefit from the financial resources necessary to hire the level of producer that is also capable of acting as a mentor. Metal bands typically are happy just to have someone that can make them -sound- good, and as such there is usually an insular guitar-bass-drums mentality that precludes those bands from exploring potentially complementary facets to their existent sound. Over the course of fifteen years, Amorphis have done enough toying around with their formula to refine it to a high sheen, their latest having all the professional polish and trimmed fat that a million dollar act like Type O Negative or Dream Theater have come to take for granted.Amorphis 2007 doesn't sound like either of those bands, but neither do they entirely come off as a product of 2007, either. There is a palpable air of the late '90s laid thick across _Silent Waters_ like a blanketing fog, neither stale nor derivative, just selective in its distillation of congruent talents and, most importantly, very well written. Naysayers will cry "Pop!" and not be entirely off the mark, with nearly every moment on the album enslaved to the concept of melody, and yes, if bands like Type O and Fear Factory were still getting play on hard rock radio this would be Amorphis' stab at mainstream glory. Thing is, though, this -isn't- 1998, the kids from back then have moved on to emo and/or goth rock (is there even a difference anymore?), and as a matter of fact Amorphis don't so much latch on to the catchy verse-chorus-verse pop format as turn it inside out in a subversive cut up of would-be zeitgeist sensibilities. This -is- metal, ladies and gentlemen...Despite the occasional foray into death vocals, _Silent Waters_ primarily exists -- and succeeds -- on the merits of its mid-tempo hooks. The band doesn't so much as even make a cursory nod toward blast beats and frantically strummed sixteenth notes, although the bellowing roar opening "Weaving the Incantation" might briefly lead one to believe otherwise. Nonetheless, the majestic pomp of the keyboard is the song's true backbone, and when the band launch into a post-bridge chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" the jig is quickly up. On this track, Joutsen betrays a knack for the same kind of strident vocals Fear Factory's Burton Bell always favored, and the final third of the song trades the keys in for an acoustic, folk-laden base. That folk influence pops up again throughout, nowhere more noticeable than "Enigma", as fine a Euro-folk ballad as any metal band has ever concocted, here almost a throwaway deep into an album chock full of a bevy of equally superb tracks. The title track is possibly the catchiest Amorphis song ever, and "The White Swan" covers the gamut from acoustic folk to dirty death-drenched vocals. Probably Tomi Joutsen’s finest, most well rounded vocal turn yet, and a sure sign that Amorphis have got their man for the long run here._Silent Waters_ is the symph / prog / goth metal album that bands like Tiamat and Moonspell have been ambling toward for years but never quite pulled off... not with this kind of purpose and alacrity, at least.
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