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Album Review

In melodic death metal and symphonic black metal, the contrast between extreme and non-extreme elements is a lot like the contrast between what jazz musicians call "inside" and "outside" playing. Some avant-garde jazz favors an inside/outside approach; some avant-garde jazz favors outside playing from start to finish — and similarly, whether a melodic death metal or symphonic black metal album makes greater use of extreme elements or greater use of non-extreme elements depends on the artist. Skyforger, it turns out, is a melodic death metal album that keeps the extreme elements to a bare minimum and is greatly influenced by progressive metal and power metal as well as folk metal. This late 2008/early 2009 recording isn't just slightly melodic — it is very melodic — and while Skyforger rocks aggressively much of the time, it is never flat-out vicious. Like a lot of melodic death metal albums, Skyforger offers a contrast between clean vocals and a deep Cookie Monster growl; the Cookie Monster, however, takes a back seat to the clean vocals this time. In fact, extreme elements take such a back seat to non-extreme elements on Skyforger that some headbangers will wonder if this 47-minute CD should even be called death metal. But then, Amorphis' willingness to try different things on different albums and their refusal to be pinned down stylistically are among their strong points. Jazz great Duke Ellington has often been quoted as saying that there are really only two types of music — good and bad — and while Skyforger is hardly ideal from the standpoint of a death metal purist, it is still an excellent metal album. Whether one describes this disc as melodic death metal or as a prog-metal/power metal/folk metal outing with some Cookie Monster growls, Amorphis should be proud of what they accomplish on Skyforger.


Formed: 1990 in Helsinki, Finland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Lead guitarist Esa Holopainen and drummer Jan Rechberger formed the band Amorphis in Finland in 1990. To complete their lineup they recruited vocalist/guitarist Tomi Koivusaari and bassist Olli-Pekka Laine. They released a demo in 1991 called Disment of Soul. The demo was so successful in getting attention for the group that they acquired a record deal and released an EP the same year. They next released their first full-length album, The Karelian Isthmus, in 1992. The following year, their early...
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Skyforger, Amorphis
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