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Nocturnal Rumination: Hippie Metal, Pt 2.

Okay, so, I ended with the divergence of the Norwegian and Swedish metal styles, both of which still held this very strong naturalistic bent to their lyrical qualities and musical soundscapes, bringing us into the early 90s metal scenes that began the foundation for the modern Black Metal scene.

Amon Amarth, a Swedish Metal Band, focused on folkloric style lyrics (note that I’m not using Viking here, because the band states that they are not a viking band).  They are very much in line with the Swedish Death Metal style with skullpounding riffs, double bass drummed assaults, and a strong combination of nature and traditional life way lyrical themes and music.  Their album Once Sent from the Golden Hall (1998) began the exploration of this sound:

Finland’s Amorphis got in on the act three years earlier with their album Tales from the Thousand Lakes.  It is a doom filled exploration of Finnish National Identity and its relationship with nature and the land.  Their earliest release reminds of Katatonia with a bit more death metal energy than that band would ever show:

This would continue for Amorphis as they evolved and continued their style as well, slowly stripping their sound down and becoming more rock oriented with folksy sounds interjected.  Their most recent releases have worked with very specific ideas from the Kalevala, while their most recent release is an exploration of a concept of an unlucky man.

Ultimately, I choose these examples because of the Power Metal quality of both bands; the high concept lyrics and themes are very much from the Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon metal styles.  The degree to which this is ramped up is heavily dependent on the overall feel and atmosphere the band wishes to create.  With Amon Amarth, it seems to be very high, whereas with Amorphis at first it is a touch lower.

The black metal style continued to evolve, especially in the underground scene, and became more and more antagonistic to world religions in general. Taake, a band whose music I generally do not like and whose showmanship is highly questionable, began on the scene in early 90s as Thule and released as full length titled Nattestid ser porten vid in 1999 after several demos in the mid-90s.  They adhered fully and heavily to the Black Metal sound:

Taake continues to this day and is best known for using Black Metal Banjo on their song “Myr” off the album Noregs vaapen.

Ulver began in 1995 with Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler (Taken to the Mountain, a fairytale in five chapters).  In this black metal did not snarl straight for your throat, rather it became a cold backdrop of the mountains, evoking a dark, frozen landscape.  Ulver truly began setting the sounds of modern shoegaze influenced black metal on this piece and at the same time really emphasized the folk aspects of the style:

It demonstrated that black metal could be used to create mystery and that the sound could be more than the sum of its parts alone and could be incorporated into something far larger.

In the US, these styles were begin coalesced into the Technical Death Metal scene, specifically in Florida.  Early on, the themes had very little to do with nature at all.  Death, with their 1991 release Human, began this introspective approach in the States to very technical music and metal:

Cynic, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinnart, were instrumental players in this scene in 1993 on their initial release of Focus, bringing esoteric philosophy to the table.  Their Buddhist lyrics and duality between heavy and light, dark and bright, &c was a watershed moment:

Generally, the American scene was thrashier (owing to the Bay Area scene popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s), but was starting to bring in the acidic growls and the introspective, philosophical themes that the members of the bands believed.  It is a divergence from the Scandinavian styles in this vein, because it focused on the quantity of the soul and the mind rather than the physical.

This brings us to the oldest band of the burgeoning CBM scene in America: Agalloch.  Their 1999 release, Pale Folklore, extends from the aforementioned though most closely resembles Amorphis, Katatonia, and Ulver:

As they were the first to my knowledge, I choose to end this part here as I’ve hit 750 words and at this point for those of you still awake, you’ll start falling that much more asleep I’m certain.  We’ll continue tomorrow with the movement into the 2000s and the re-emergence of this style in several different places around the world.

 

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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Art, Geek, Landscape, Music, Nature, Philosophy

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: The Doors and their Influence.

The original, live performance by the Doors.

Amorphis’ cover of “Light My Fire.”

Type O Negative’s cover of “Light My Fire.”

Pearl Jam’s cover of “Break on Through.”

Stone Temple Pilot’s cover of “Break on Through.”

Duran Duran’s Cover of “Crystal Ship.”

Nirvana’s cover of “The End.”

Dave Matthews’ Band’s cover of “Riders on the Storm.”

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Art, Geek, Grief, Inspiration, Music

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: Amorphis’ Shades of Gray and Hopeless Days from Circle (2013)

Just to give a touch of variety to the selections and to best demonstrate the album:

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Weekly Music Review: Amorphis’ Circle (2013)

amorphis_circle

Amorphis has been either hot and cold with me.  Their brand of music has cool from a blast furnace to varying degrees of ballad style songs to death’n’roll.  In all fairness, I only recently jumped into their music in 2008 or so when I listened to Silent Waters. This is still my favorite album by them, and while I have songs that I enjoy from Eclipse, Skyforger, and The Beginning of Time, I still yet find points at which I find myself rather off put by their sound.

For lack of a better descriptor, I’ll call them folk-inspired progressive Melodic Death Metal that has encountered more rock aspects of late than metal aspects.  The folk comes in regarding their subject matter: the Kalevala, or essentially the Finnish set of folktales that establish and define that country’s national identity.  If anything, one can never state that their music does not fit the thematics of their lyrical content.  However, sometimes the lyrics border close to Power Metal cheesiness.

Circle, however, explodes into your brain the moment you hit play on the album.  “Shades of Grey” is exactly what they describe when they stated that they wanted to hit your ear with a skull rattling riff.  Tomi Jousten’s voice is stunningly clear, his growls aggressive and focused, his shrieks piercing and cold.  The guitar section grabs you directly by the throat, demanding your attention.  In other words, it is the perfect opener for this concept album.

Then, they scale back through “Mission,” “The Wanderer,” and “Narrow Path” hitting you with metal (instead of their typical rock ballads and movements), before ripping back into your flesh with “Hopeless Days.”  “Narrow Path” is the most interesting of these songs because it introduces the flute sound which seems to be the call of the Nightbird (see “Nightbird’s Song”) in which the flute drives the guitar riff, giving the song a very folk inspired feel.  The tremolo picked riffs leading into the hook are amazingly placed, creating some of the best music Amorphis has done since Silent Waters. “Hopeless Days” explodes “Narrow Path” into a new direction, its riff again shatteringly heavy.  “Nightbird’s Song” is crafted through a true eye toward progressive music, pulling more of the black metal genre into their sound to create a frozen, dark night scape in sound.  “Into the Abyss” brings back movements into their Death’n’Roll sound, where “Enchanted by the Moon” continues this more rock inspired music though with metal substance.  The chorus is amazingly beautiful with the voice leading the guitar’s whining tone in the background in contrast.

“A New Day” is the worst song off this album, having a funeral dirge quality and quite honestly feels a bit like filler just because of how very much it reminds of “Mermaids” or “You I Need” from The Beginning of Time. Therefore, to alleviate this, I recommend the purchase of the deluxe edition so that you may finish with “Dead Man’s Dream” which is a black/death inspired romp, fusing their primary sound elements together well – it feels very folk, very metal, and very melancholic.

To be frank, this is the best album from Amorphis since 2007’s Silent Waters.  I enjoyed this work, and fans of the band’s eras as pure on melodic death and death’n’roll should find things to enjoy off it.  I believe that finally they were able to get the folk elements of their sounds to genuinely mesh with what they attempted in the metal and rock and roll aspects.  In the end, Amorphis is a Finnish institution, a unique band that comes round maybe once or twice in a generation that is able to encapsulate a national identity through their music.  In other words, Circle is a stunning album (a fact that I am absolutely pleased to write after being lukewarm on Skyforger and The Beginning of Time) and is a perfect example of that which I just wrote.  For lack of a better way of writing this, Amorphis is now, in my opinion, the Finnish version of Iron Maiden, and should be remembered going forth as that type of institution.  Yes, you may not enjoy every song off every album they write, but damn it, you are going to be entertained and you are going to feel more familiar with their heritage when you are done listening.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Accountability, Art, Music, Reviews

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: Amorphis’ Silent Waters

One of the best songs I’ve heard; it’s tone and mood seem to fit the day spot on.  Enjoy!

Also, interesting site that NCS linked on a discussion about Deafheaven.  It’s called Steel for Brains and discusses artistic creation from the artist’s perspective.

 
 

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Amorphis lyric video for Enchanted by The Moon!

Lyric video for a new Amorphis song! I just had to share it with everyone.

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Music

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: Amorphis’ Shades of Gray from “Circle”

This is the second lyric video for the new Amorphis album due out this year.  Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Art, Music

 

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