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At the Top of their Game - 96%

MaDTransilvanian, May 18th, 2009

Chosen as the second single from the Eclipse album, The Smoke is a very simple release, featuring only the song itself as well as the video for the first single off Eclipse: House of Sleep.

First off, the song itself, The Smoke, is probably one of the Amorphis songs best suited to being a single. It’s an incredibly catchy song, unmistakably consistent with the style pioneered by the band since the arrival of singer Tomi Joutsen in 2005. The track starts off with a particularly melodic guitar intro before merging into the first riff, leading into the chorus section, which is where the most metal elements of the song dominate as opposed to the lighter, more acoustic verses.

The real highlight here is the vocal performance by Tomi Joutsen. His ability to switch from very clean vocals during the verses to short flurries of growls in the choruses is dazzling. Additionally and somewhat surprisingly, this makes the growled sections of the song by far the catchiest, although each of these sections is in turn followed by a clean section, increasing the overall contrast created by the continually alternating vocal styles. The overall atmosphere created by this song is enticing, being on of the most uplifting and generally joyous (in a very good way) tracks I’ve heard from Amorphis. This is the kind of song which best fits summertime and festive events.

The lyrics are rather poetic, describing a man’s dream in which he is followed by and subsequently merged with smoke as he is in the process of progressing through a series of locations, creating quite an abstract composition for this song.

The CD single also features the House of Sleep video, released after the CD version of the separate House of Sleep single. The video consists of two themes: the band playing the song together as well as scenes of Tomi alone, these last parts reflecting the lyrical themes which are to be found within the song.

The Smoke single contains very high quality music; indeed, this is Amorphis at their very best. However, the lack of any exclusive musical material of even a B-side kind of reduces the overall value of this single unless someone wants either a single song off the Eclipse album (although The Smoke is probably one of the best songs off said album, it’s certainly far from being the only good one) or an officially released version of the House of Sleep clip, which is probably the best reason to seek this single out.

Not The Best Choice For A Single - 79%

OzzyApu, May 18th, 2009

Don’t get me wrong, “The Smoke” is a pretty good track. It’s got a tight melody / rhythm combo, a flamboyant lead, and a lot of jazzy bass support. The outro nicks off what’s left of Amorphis’ weak spots, and turns them into bundles of joy for all the kiddies. We even get to hear Joutsen’s monstrous growls – no joke, this guy puts Koivusaari’s basic growl to the test. We even get a “House Of Sleep” music video, which is a sight to see, I tell you.

A couple problems hinder this release, though: one is that it came out way too late. Look at the release date – almost five full months after the album was released. Who’s gonna pay attention to this when the song was released already! A second small issue is that you can find the “House Of Sleep” video online almost anywhere, so that’s no big deal. Lastly, “The Smoke” itself is a good song, but there are way better choices like the rocking “Born From Fire,” the folk-like “Brother Moon,” or the atmospheric “Empty Opening.” Any of those would have worked miles better than this one and contain more variety.

Whatever, “The Smoke” is a good addition to the album, which you should be paying more attention to than this single alone.