Author Topic: [Music] Amorphis - Skyforger  (Read 1459 times)

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Offline TheOutlawXanadu

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[Music] Amorphis - Skyforger
« on: June 21, 2009, 09:40:45 AM »
Amorphis - Skyforger
2009
Metal

What Amorphis started in 2006 with Eclipse and followed in 2007 with Silent Waters has concluded with this year’s Skyforger. Their self-proclaimed trilogy of albums with new vocalist Tomi Joutsen has helped them to revive their career, all because they’ve gotten more in touch with their roots and settled into a comfort zone of crafting hooks like no other metal band on the planet. Unfortunately, the record isn’t as good as its predecessors in the series, but it ends it on a strong note regardless. It excels because it sticks to the formula they’ve mastered over the course of the past three years while adding subtle variations, and aiming only to please with overwhelming, unadulterated melodies.

Whereas Silent Waters took Eclipse and made it darker and heavier, Skyforger elects to do the opposite, stripping the Amorphis sound of most of its extreme elements. The only song on the album to feature mostly growls is “Majestic Beast”, the remainder of the disc electing to showcase them very sporadically. Because of this lack of contrast between the heavy and the light, the album can start to sound monotonous after awhile, and it becomes difficult to differentiate each track from one another. However, once you attain a better familiarity with the record as a whole, the compositions richen, and it becomes easy to appreciate it for the treasure it is.

It must be noted that, although Skyforger is a consistent album, there are, unfortunately, a handful of throw-aways on the disc that, even after repeat listens, don’t age well. “Highest Star” and “Skyforger” are the most egregious examples, featuring slow-churning vocals from Joutsen that sound as if they were yelled purely for the sake of being yelled. He, and the rest of the group for that matter, are at their best when they’re being active. Contrast the above works with “Sampo” or “From Earth I Rose” and the disparity in quality becomes apparent. There, the guitars churn out line after line of glorious melody, the vocals complimenting the instruments by soaring alongside them. They showcase the band at the height of their powers, not only in respect to their own discography but in comparison to what their contemporaries are doing as well.

Of all the criticisms I’ve read of the band, one of the most unfounded is that their music is simple, and therefore it is boring. They aren’t Atheist or Cynic, but where those bands aim to impress with chaotic technicality, Amorphis aims to impress with only melody in mind. Skyforger is, as lead guitarist Esa Holopainen put it, their most musical album in awhile, but not in the sense there are more solos or that the songs are longer. It’s musical in that it fills ups space with bass, drums, guitars and keyboards like only the best of prog bands do, even if it isn’t all that progressive. It tries to occupy you with hooks so original they ingrain themselves on your brain, but that don’t feel cheap or forced.

It’s undeniable that, by now, Amorphis has gotten a little too comfortable. The positive reception their recent works have garnered has built hype around the band for the first time in years, and their complacency has started to creep into their writing. For their next effort, I wouldn’t be surprised if they wrote something that harkened back to their death-doom metal days, but for now, I will sit comfortably knowing they’re at a glorious point in their career they might never return to again. Now that they’ve completed their trilogy, there’s no telling where they’ll go next, but something tells me they’ll be alright. If an album like Skyforger, with all its minuscule blemishes and faults, can be so good, then who’s to say something legendary isn’t lurking around the corner?

**** (out of five)
« Last Edit: June 21, 2009, 02:32:49 PM by TheOutlawXanadu »
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Offline Nick

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Re: [Music] Amorphis - Skyforger
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2009, 09:41:37 AM »
That was an unusually quick turnaround for you TOX, read this when I get home tonight.
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Offline ReaPsTA

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Re: [Music] Amorphis - Skyforger
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2009, 02:34:36 PM »
I respect your positivity, but I couldn't get into this album at all. Except for Sampo (good folksy stuff), Sky is Mine (genius), and Majestic Beast (really intense), the album just isn't that good to me.

Too many passages remind me of other songs they've done, and the more original sections bore me. Eclipse and Silent Waters are two of the best albums ever made, but I think Amorphis dropped the ball with this one. It's an earnest attempt, but the inspiration just feels lacking.
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Offline ariich

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Re: [Music] Amorphis - Skyforger
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2009, 05:15:12 PM »
Great review TOX and I agree almost entirely. For me there are only 2 songs that aren't very exciting, and even those I enjoy a lot, but the rest have choruses that really sit very well with me.

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Re: [Music] Amorphis - Skyforger
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2009, 09:23:45 PM »
I think the album deserves 4.5 stars, and is better than its previous two. Then again I am of the opposite camp in terms of growls. I think the album benefited greatly by the cutback and allowed many songs, musically, shine that otherwise would not have.
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Re: [Music] Amorphis - Skyforger
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2009, 05:14:08 PM »
I wasn't impressed the first two times I listened to this one, but I just finished my third listen, and the first half of it just CLICKED in a big way for me.

Just like TOX said, I don't think Skyforger quite measures up to Silent Waters, but I'd say the high points on Skyforger are just as good as the high points of Silent Waters.  I'm excited to see where Amorphis goes next.