AMORPHIS — Elegy

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AMORPHIS - Elegy cover
4.15 | 47 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1996

Tracklist

1. Better Unborn (5:52)
2. Against Widows (4:06)
3. The Orphan (5:18)
4. On Rich and Poor (5:19)
5. My Kantele (5:02)
6. Cares (4:30)
7. Song of the Troubled One (4:08)
8. Weeper on the Shore (4:52)
9. Elegy (7:22)
10. Relief (4:09)
11. My Kantele (acoustic reprise) (5:55)

Total Time: 56:33

Line-up/Musicians

- Pasi Koskinen / Vocals
- Tomi Koivusaari / Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine
- Esa Holopainen / Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Sitar
- Olli-Pekka Laine / Bass
- Kim Rantala / Keyboards & Accordion
- Pekka Kasari / Drums

About this release

Full-length, Relapse Records, May 14th, 1996

Licensed to Nuclear Blast in Europe.

Cover artwork painted by Kristian Wåhlin.

In 2004, Relapse reissued Elegy as a digipack, featuring four bonus tracks:
12. Better Unborn (Live) (06:00)
13. Against Widows (Live) (04:05)
14. The Castaway (Live) (04:54)
15. Black Winter Day (Live) (03:39)

Thanks to CCVP, UMUR, adg211288 for the updates

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Vim Fuego
Is that a sitar? On a death metal album?

It’s an electric sitar, yes, but this isn’t really a death metal album. It’s a close relative to one though.

Before “Elegy”, Amorphis was a bit of a death metal icon. The band’s first album “The Karelian Isthmus” released in 1992 was much revered for it’s brutality and heaviness, with guitarist Tomi Koivusaari’s guttural vocals carving the band a unique spot in the death metal pantheon. And to follow that up you go even more brutal, right? Of course you fucking don’t. That’s how you paint yourself into a corner. No, you do what Amorphis did and innovate.

So, along came 1994’s “Tales From The Thousand Lakes”, and metal fans were in awe of Amorphis again. The album was still brutal and deathly, but this time it had clean vocals, courtesy of singer Pasi Koskinen. Sure, this wasn’t completely unknown, as Fear Factory had been doing it for a few years, but Amorphis did it differently, with a dose of melody, but without compromising on the metal content.

And so to 1996 and “Elegy” and the sitar. There’s also tambourines, accordions, keyboards and acoustic guitars, and it’s obvious Amorphis isn’t a death metal band any more. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s more than OK. No, the growls aren’t gone completely – they provide a stark contrast on most tracks, but Koivusaari enunciates far more clearly than most death metal vocals. The guitars are no longer distorted chainsaws, but they are far from completely clean. Amorphis was never a blast-after-blast style death metal band, more the mid-pace groove style. Their groove never really relied on chug-a-chug riffs much either, so the evolution to fluid melodic, veering on psychedelic riffs isn’t too jarring for most Amorphis fans. In fact, it all seems completely logical.

This sounds like a full-on mainstream sell-out, with a band seemingly turning it’s back on their dark, primitive roots. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As an album, “Elegy” is heavy as hell, and totally uncompromising. It’s just that it’s not traditional death metal-style heavy, and there’s no overt attempt to aim for a commercial market. This is a band well and truly expanding their horizons. Look at a track like “The Orphan”. It’s basically ambient metal, with vocals and swirling keyboards fleshing it out, and then without the listener realising it, there’s a chunky great riff playing under an ethereal choir. There’s even twin lead guitar melodies. This is the layered, textured songwriting style throughout the album.

Lyrically, the band have taken great inspiration from Finnish mythology. “Elegy” is based on the Kanteletar, a collection of almost 700 poems and ballads, and a companion work to the Kalevala, which “Tales of the Thousand Lakes” was based on. These folk tales of everyday life and philosophy seemed to have also inspired the band to folk music melodies, but still only a stone’s throw from full on metal song construction. There are so many damn good catchy riffs and melodies it’s hard to pick any in particular as the best example. There’s the mid-section of “Song of the Troubled One”, but then compare it to the introduction to “Against Widows”, or the outro to “On Rich and Poor”, and it’s impossible to say “yes, this one is the best” simply because these passages of music just keep coming.

“Elegy’ is often called a transitional album, between Amorphis’ death metal roots and their progressive metal destination, and often such transitional albums get overlooked because the albums either side are purer examples of the different genres. No band ever sets out to record an album thinking it’s going to be transitional though, and are simply making the music they feel inspired to create at that time. “Elegy” is not a transition, but an evolution, a triumph, and a masterpiece.
Warthur
After Tales From the Thousand Lakes, Amorphis underwent a substantial gear change, shifting from the melodic death metal that had been the foundation of their sound to a more progressive and folk-oriented metal sound. Elegy is the sound of that gear change in progress, with the clean vocals provided by Pasi Koskinen being one of the more obvious symptoms of it; the jarring nature of the shift is exacerbated by lead-off track, Better Unborn, showcasing many of the more accessible elements of Amorphis' new sound.

There's an interesting mingling of influences in here, with the folk stuff extending to a sudden outbreak of polka at the midway point of the album on Cares. But precisely because the band are juggling so many different new ingredients of their sound, they end up producing something which sounds a bit jumbled and incoherent. They certainly no longer sound like the Amorphis of their previous two albums, but they aren't quite the Amorphis of their future career yet, leaving them in limbo.
poslednijat_colobar
Very interesting album from my favourite metal band - Amorphis. I would say it's a transitional album between their early death metal roots and their next musical adventures in stone rock and progressive rock. When I first got into Elegy, I've been thinking, it's the greatest music I've ever heard. But that's other story... This is truly their transition. There are new ideas and there aren't some of the earlier. The newest is the presence of much more heavy and progressive tunes as well as dynamic rhythms. However, there aren't death and doom sound here, except parts of the vocals. Amorphis save a lot of the folk themes in Elegy from the previous album (TFTTL). In my opinion Elegy is overall much weaker than Tales from the Thousand Lakes, which is real masterpiece. The reasons are: the simplifying of the compositions, lots of unnecessary repetitions and the weakness of the clean vocals presented by new vocalist Pasi Koskinen! However, it's still one of the strongest Amorphis albums so my vote shall be 4+ stars!
bonnek
This is a transitional album between their death metal roots and the space rock of Tuonela and Am Universum. It's is without doubt the most varied, original and experimental Amorphis release. Ranging from folk to space rock to death metal. There's often a lot of different things going on in one song.

But, not being very fond of the monotonous mumbling of the original singer, my appreciation of the music highly depends on who's handling the vocals. Not that the singing ever gets irritating, it's just a bit plain in comparison to the musical talent displayed on this album.

Elegy is a monument in modern metal but it has turned out to be one of my least played Amorphis albums.

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