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Ladies and gentlemen, step on board for the latest cash and grab sensation! Relapse Records, though having been parted from their Finnish cows, decided it might be best to squeeze a few more drops of juice out of the old lemon. Thus begin the Chapters, a two-disc collection, the first featuring 17 tracks of music, the latter with 5 videos. Oh man, videos! This must totally be worth it. Nuts.
Most of the material here covers the first five albums of the band, though in a sort of reverse order. In other words, The Karelian Isthmus material ("Warriors Trial", "Exile of the Suns of Uisliu", and "The Lost Name of God") is tucked away near the end; it begins with Am Universum ("Alone", "Drifting Memories"), proceeds through Tuonela ("The Way", "Summer's End"), Elegy ("Better Unborn", "My Kantele", and "Weeper on the Shore"), and then Tales from the Thousand Lakes ("Black Winter Day", "The Castaway", "Drowned Maid"). Also included are "Moon and Sun" from the Black Winter Day EP and "The Brother-Slayer" from My Kantele EP. Since this has all been released before, on a series of albums that range from essential to just okay, there is really no cause for a repressing. In fact, the only tracks the average Amorphis fan might not be familiar with are "Too Late to See" from the Alone single, and "Northern Lights" from the Divinity single. But even these are not worth shelling out any of your hard earned cash for this release.
Had Chapters been a collection of rare and unreleased material (like the single B-sides), it would hold some intrinsic value. Alas, it is pure ass-rape, and customary for a metal or independent label to pad their sales by releasing shit you already have. I have never understood the concept, not here and not 30 years ago when huge rock/pop acts had 'greatest hits' albums. You might think to yourself, 'but I want the own the videos', but hold out for that eventual DVD release. It's a cash grab.
So if you happen to be born yesterday, and you're wetting your feet in the thousand lakes for the first time, heed my advice. Let's say this disc only costs $8-10. Take that same $8-10, and go buy Elegy or Tales from the Thousand Lakes. In fact, spend $20 and buy both of them. You can thank me later.
People like money, I get it. I like integrity. Is it really so difficult to provide one for the other?
"There´s not much to say about this release!" you might think, for it´s one more of those "Best of" compilations that overflow the market.
Well, if you think so, you´re totally wrong!
Amorphis has always been a band that can be compared best with a masquerade. Each time you listen to them, they sound different!
Their debut ("The Karelian Isthmus") was pure Death Metal, but already the follow up ("Tales from the thousand lakes") showed that these guys were able to write killer songs. What I want to say is, that every release by Amorphis showed another facette of the band.
This release in particular has the intention to show their career in a retrospective, from their latest release for Relapse Records back to the first. So it shouldn´t be surprising, that the best Amorphis songs are featured on this record... Nevertheless it´s a surprise that some songs featured on this compilation were recorded during the album sessions, but weren´t released then ("Too much to see", which was recorded as a bonus for “Am Univerum” and "Northern lights", which is a leftover from “Tuonela”). So you can get a bit of new material.
Musically this album starts rather calm, with an radio edit of “Alone”, a quiet song with a powerful chorus. The following song is called “Drifting memories”, a psychedelic influenced song. Both songs are well known from “Am Universum”. “Too much to see”, song No. three is the first unreleased track. It´s in the vein of late Amorphis, which means that it features a good melody, solid guitar playing, cool dark vocals and some additions of a Hammond organ.
”The way” is the first song taken from the “Tuonela” album. This track emphasizes that there are not so many bands out there that are able to write such great melodies! The guitars are still tuned down a little bit, which gives the song a very powerful mood. Combined with the mentioned great melodies, it´s a hit! “Northern lights” starts with a cool rock riffing, combined with growled/screamed vocals. After a short calm interlude, the song continues with this rock riffing, but the growls meet some clear vocals. Just a good rock song.
”Summer´s end” is the last song from “Tuonela”. It´s a quite simple song, for the riffing is monotonous, but the vocalist sings a really cool melody. Due to the simple riffing, this song sounds very powerful and the keyboard effects give it a slight 70´s note. And it really sounds as if summer is about to end.
”The brother slayer” originally appeared on the “My Kantele”-Single and shows the development of the band away from their Death Metal roots to a more Rock-influenced style of Metal. The hammond organ and the keyboard effects prove that and emphasize the rock vibes.
“Better unborn”, My Kantele” and “Weeper on the shore” represent the “Elegy” era. All songs insist of a blend of Death Metal growls, clean vocals, low pitched guitars and heavy drumming plus the first serious attempt to integrate influences of the 70´s. spacerock. Nevertheless it´s a fact that Amorphis did a really good job on this album.
”Moon and sun” was taken from the “Black winter day”-Single and was recorded during the “Tales from the thousand lakes” session. This means that this song is far more Death Metal influenced than the later stuff Amorphis recorded. Harsh vocals meet Death Metal guitars and some keyboard additions.
The next three songs were taken from their first hit album, namely “Tales from the thousand lakes”. This album was Amorphis´ first attempt to mix their Death Metal with lead guitars influenced by traditional Heavy Metal and Finnish folklore. “Black winter day” must be considered as their first hit single and everyone who knows Amorphis, knows this song! But the other songs are also on a very high level and feature dozens of good melodies and a brilliant production (that holds for every release of the band!)
The last three songs show the early works of the band. Their debut perfectly reflected the European Death Metal scene, when it was recorded in 1992. The music on this album features everything you want to hear, if you like mid-tempo Death Metal: massive guitars, powerful drumming with some short blast speeds and lots of double bass, melodious lead guitars, and incredible growled vocals…
All in all one can take a carefully selected trip through the past of this amazing band while listening to this Best of-compilation. But as always, no compilation can deliver every good song of a band, so try to get the albums for total satisfaction!
Whom it may concern, this CD comes with a free DVD, containing video clips. Featured are: “Alone”, “Divinity”, My Kantele” (acoustic version!!!) “Against widows” and “Black winter day”.