Amorphis

Silent Waters

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Who says you can't ever find your way home again? Finland's Amorphis started testing the veracity of that age-old maxim in 2005, when their Eclipse album interrupted years of ruthless genre-hopping evolution, took stock of a bevy of styles from all eras of the group's long career, and stewed them into a single, mostly satisfying mélange. Amorphis' peacemaking experiment with their past also coincided with the introduction of new vocalist Tomi Joutsen, leading some to speculate that the departed Pasi Koskinen had much to do with their prior direction, and perhaps proving the point when their subsequent outing, 2007's Silent Waters, found the band pursuing the all-inclusive philosophy once again. And so, on the one hand, listeners can get their death metal fix from guitarist (and original vocalist) Tomi Koivusaari's Cookie Monster contributions to "The White Swan" and the stunning opening tandem of "Weaving the Incantation" and "A Servant" (featuring a notably ripping guitar solo), or experience retrofitted quasi-replicas of the folk-meets-death Tales from the Thousand Lakes era in the almost spookily authentic "Shaman" and the purely acoustic "Enigma." On the other hand, they can experience several examples ("I of Crimson Blood," "Her Alone," "Black River," and the title track) of Amorphis' more recent forays into softer and progressive realms, where Joutsen's gentle croon often shares the spotlight with pianist Santen Kallio's majestic themes. And, finally, just to keep things interesting, the wild card "Towards and Against" blends echoing electronics with semi-industrial guitar textures, a disco-metal beat (probably copped from chart-topping countrymen Nightwish), and guttural and clean vocals for a truly head-spinning hybrid. In the end, it's obvious that Silent Waters lacks same the creative cohesion displayed by most of the group's previous albums, but it's also true that its "one size fits all" strategy manages to represent more of the many "morphs" in Amorphis' long existence than anyone might have thought possible.

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