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Though I'd hardly dub it a mandatory purchase, since most of the tracks within can be found elsewhere in a re-recorded state, the Privilege of Evil EP has quite an interesting background. It was originally going to be a split release with Incantation from the US, and yet it was given an independent pressing through Relapse Records, while Incantation's half remained on the back burner for 15 years...then released as Blasphemous Creation. If you're expecting the radio friendly, heavily melodic folk Amorphis of the band's later years, you may be in for a shock, as Privilege of Evil shows the band at their most primal form, playing the crushing death metal foundation that would evolve into the sounds of The Karelian Isthmus and Tales from the Thousand Lakes, sans the heavy use of keyboards and the gripping melodies.
Three of the tracks also appear on the band's debut album The Karelian Isthmus: "Pilgrimage from Darkness" (later reduced to the title "The Pilgrimage"), "Black Embrace" and "Misery Path". "Pilgrimage" sounds quite good in particular on this EP, with a beautiful raw, doomy tone to the slower guitars, choir samples and very dark feel. "Black Embrace" and "Misery Path" sound a lot like late 80s Bolt Thrower, that is they develop some serious, crushing thick grooves, and the former does have a melody to foreshadow their later work, as well as a brief, doomy acoustic foray. Rounding out the release are "Excursing from Existence", which is re-recorded from the band's 1991 demo Disment of Soul. From that same demo comes the EP title track, "Privilege of Evil", which is quite excellent, the best song here, with some engaging brutality that cedes into an atmospheric doom, as the guitars chug below the very simple keyboard line. Amorphis also include a cover of Abhorrence's "Vulgar Necrolatry", and there is an appearance from vocalist Jukka Kolehmainen.
The material is all pretty consistent, that is as a 23 minute release it flows very well through its trudging walls of barbaric death and doom. If you are seeking refinement in the band's sound, seek elsewhere, because this is just like a pair of bricks clapping you on the ears. Yet, it's quite good for what it is...and I can't fault it for such a monolithic, vibrant sound. Any fan of Amorphis, or the early death/doom scene, should own it if only for "Privilege of Evil" itself, and the other non-album demo track and cover.
Amorphis are yet another band that became popular after turning their sound to a progressive influenced pop/rock one, rather than the innovative, raw and punishing death metal to be found on this release. Unlike many other bands of the time, Amorphis were rooted in an old school death metal sound however slightly tweaked it by introducing keyboards and an influence from bands like Nihilist and Carnage, despite being Finnish and not Swedish.
Production here is an incredibly heavy sound reminiscent of the early Swedish death metal bands, but just seems all the more punishing. Even though the sound is raw and heavy nothing is lost as every last note can be heard clearly, twisting through your mind. Every so often there are some unusual moments like the clean break in Black Embrace, or the introduction of the aforementioned keyboards, but when you look at the overall picture, Amorphis were just playing highly effective and innovative death metal. It may be because Finland did not have the "scene" attitude or opportunity as others areas that forged their own sound, but the Finnish bands from the period all seem to have something original, Demilich being the other obvious example as well as the band covered on this release, Abhorrence.
The guitars generally take a more tremelo based sound, mixing it up with the odd thrashier or sometimes doom or heavy metal influenced sections. I always find that this style of songwriting requires great skill as adding more rocky influences can sometimes overide the originality and create something that is catchy but nothing more. However, along with bands like Rotting Christ, this band has enough skill to pull it off. Their work has a mainly death metal feeling, but also uses excellent melodic continuity to pervert the faster and heavier material with the best parts of heavy or doom metal, leading to an atmosphere that is both punishing and beautiful.
Vocals are a coarse, guttural growl similar to those of other early Swedish death metal bands, but is also original in the almost whispery effect that Tomi Koivusaari pulls off. This gives more off an eerie feeling than other deeper vocalists who appear to be all out going for the jugular without contributing much to the album as a whole. This slight unique point is very effective to the music and the backing vocals present in some tracks only add to the experience.
Song structure is highly of note and probably my favourite part of this release. Riffs twist and turn around the thick drum sound normally sprawling out to an epic conclusion using the variation mentioned before from the keys or doom metal influence. The songs truly take your mind on a long and epic journey, never adhereing to the chorus heavy, rock based songs they would release later in their career.
Along with the first two full lengths, these releases should be in any serious death metal fan's collection. So despite the questionable direction of the bands later albums, do not fear, this release will leave you crushed as much as it will have you leaning back in awe.
You really wouldn’t know this is Amorphis. But it is, and it’s awesome.
Despite being released after their debut album, The Karelian Isthmus, the Privilege of Evil was actually recorded beforehand. This is very apparent after listening to both releases; the songs on Privilege of Evil have a much more straight forward approach and the production is a good deal rawer. Two of the songs on this EP (Black Embrace and Misery Path) also appear on The Karelian Isthmus, but are given a more epic and melodic revamp on that one. Nonetheless, it’s still interesting to hear them in their original glory. Black Embrace especially displays a much more violent attitude than the version on the full length, with some great blast beats and ferocious guttural spewing.
With this release, Amorphis plant their death metal roots firmly in place, drawing clear influence from their Scandinavian comrades, namely Entombed. The songs are nicely diverse; usually beginning with a slow, evil guitar riff and then picking up pace to an aggressive speed. Opener, Pilgrimage From Darkness showcases this method nicely and even contains some tasteful keyboards to add to the gloomy atmosphere and memorable riffs. The atmosphere is also enhanced by the gritty production which which isn’t crude enough to affect the established instrumentation, but instead just gives the sound a nice old school feel.
This is definitely Amorphis in their most brutal form. If you’re a fan of raw, yet impressively polished old school death metal, this EP is a must have. It shouldn’t be too difficult to track down either, seeing as it was re-released with their debut full length.
Sometimes you can't do anything but wonder how can a band you generally detest have made something that in your opinion is a timeless classic. Privilege Of Evil is properly well played, amazingly well written, Death Metal, as it should be: In your face, relentless and brutal.
But let me start from a proper beggining. Let me be honest about some things: I don't like Amorphis. I don't like their recent sound, and I only found Tuonela do be mildly amusing. And I don't dig their older albums either. I find Tales to be cheesy and Karelian a bit too boring. Which is quite the strange thing since Privilege Of Evil is mostly a raw, faster, harsher version of The Karelian Isthmus. But for some strange reason, it seems that whatever was missing from Karelian is here, and multiplied by ten times.
All the songs are amazing and feel different to each other, which is something original for the genre in general, with many bands failing to even write a single proper song, but writing the same riff over and over again. Our friends without form though really adressed that mistake, by writing a killer riff after another killer riff: You simply can't grasp how marvelous every moment is. I have literally found myself repeating parts of a song just to listen to particular riff that is amazing. Usually bands over-use a good riff, not the other way around.
The sound is Death Metal as you can imagine it: Think of early Therion, Morbid Angel, and move a bit closer to Bloodbath (who after all seem to have been copying Privilege Of Evil for their last two releases), and you get the general picture. A true Death Metal gem that no one should miss, regardless if you like Amorphis in either of their styles or not. After all, this sounds nothing like Amorphis. To put it plainly, it kicks fucking ass. Now let me return to my headbanging to Black Embrace......
"Privilege of Evil"... I sort of like that idea. Evil is not a right, but a cherished privilege. Incidently, I think Amorphis had their Evil licenses revoked before their second full length.
But let us not think of that at the moment, for on this EP lies what is surely some of the greatest and darkest death metal that it has been my particular evil privilege to hear. Though clearly Scandinavian in origin, this is quite a far cry from the syncopated drunken bounciness of "Left Hand Path" et al. Evidently, Satan granted Amorphis the power to perfectly transcribe the sound of darkness into simple guitar melodies on the condition that all of their music must suck after the first album. It was probably worth the deal. With no disrespect intended to the crushing tremolo riffing, the best parts of the album are the slower, doomier segments, where the lead guitar sings its terrifying tales over a backdrop of low pitched chords. Check the song "Misery Path" to see what I mean.
A final note: a couple of these songs reappeared in a more contextually appropriately epic form on the first Amorphis full length, which I also recommend.
Being Amorphis's first EP this is their darkest piece of work yet, and I am sure it will be forever their darkest piece of brilliance. Combining classic grind/thrash metal together creating a picturesque sound that sets you back to the early 90's style of death metal. This album is a must have and is probably one of Amorphis's best. I have personally rates each track on the album out of 10 (10 being best).
The first track, "Pilgrimage from Darkness," is a very dark track that includes all parts of death metal techniques. Rough harsh riff’s combined with steady drumming, very death metal like vocals that are deep and demonic, and even an opera chorus; illuminate parts of this song, as it builds up to the songs climax, which is my personal favorite section of the song. The song has a classic rolling grind sound that is heavy while still having catchy tunes. 8/10
The second track, "Black Embrace," is another heavy death metal classic that starts off with a slow steady beat with the occasional speed outbursts. The beat is slow and follows the perfect lyrics, which talk about religion, hell and other typical death metal like themes. This is the best track on the album. 10/10
The title track, "Privilege of Evil," starts out with a wild thrash and crash beginning that I dont find particularly attractive, but very quickly develops into a slow dark beat that speeds up slows down, slows down again, and then suddenly speeds up. This is the worst track on the album, but still a very creative piece of work. 7/10
The following track, "Misery Path," is a medium paced song, which has very creative lyrics that guide the guitars, along with the very quick guitar paces. Occasionally the song gets carried away, but is quickly tied back into good tune. This song is plain and delivers no brilliant riffs or solos but is altogether a good steady song. 8/10
Time for extreme death metal, "Vulgar Necrolatry," is one of the most gruesome songs of all time, 100% different from modern Amorphis. As the name suggests this track is about the pleasure of looking at dead decaying corpses (who knows where they came up with that). This song bursts about from the very beginning grinding and thrashing its way into a more slowly passed tune that is rather catchy. 9/10
The last track on the CD, "Excursing from Existence," slows the album down with its very creepy sound. This track combines speed with slow for a well-balanced track. The highlight of the track is the chorus, "Excrusing from Existence," which is sung very well and is the highlight of this track. 7/10
Overall the album, "Privilege of Evil," is a very death metal type album, with its dark riffs, slow paced beat, gravely deep vocals, and disturbing lyrics. The perfect grind/thrash/death metal album, anyone who likes either or all of those categories should greatly enjoy this album. Thank you for reading this review and I hope I have helped you.