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Chapters - Amorphis

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Heavy Metal / Artist: Amorphis / CD+DVD / Audio CD released at Relapse

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      16.01.2008 18:43
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      Amorphis' second compilation (2003).

      You know a band's getting a little desperate when they release two similar best-of compilations within three years, increasingly demonstrating how much better they used to be in the good old days. While 'Story' was a self-proclaimed '10th Anniversary' release in 2000, 'Chapters' is the first to feature new material from the disappointing 'Am Universum' album and the first to arrange all of the songs in reverse chronological order to offer a true retrospective. So that makes it justified, obviously.

      While I can't condone such obvious cash-in releases, this can't help but be a very interesting album thanks to the inclusion of much of Amorphis' finest and extremely varied work, entirely from the first three to four albums before they lost it. As with 'Story,' there's no attempt to privilege the more recent works against older material, and in fact there are three songs from the first three albums compared to only two each from the more recent releases. The 2003 studio album 'Far From the Sun' was released less than a month before this collection, and the lack of any brand new material from that studio lack-of-effort is either due to commercial considerations, or simply taste. I'd hope for the latter, and it at least means listeners are spared pickings from the weakest Amorphis release to date. While 'Story' seemed a little pre-emptive at covering a band with only four major releases under its belt, 'Chapters' is more entertaining at five.

      Amorphis' musical career can be tellingly followed in a backwards fashion here, and anyone who misinterprets the song styles moving on from bland atmospheric prog rock through to folk-influenced prog metal and even some good old-fashioned death metal at the end as the true career path of Amorphis is sadly being optimistic. As a fan of the earlier works I clearly favour the latter half of the album, though the stuff from 'Elegy' and 'Tuonela' is still very good (if a bit obviously chosen), and perhaps wary of angering fans by re-selling songs they already own, a few choice B-sides are tactfully inserted along the way, though these were all previously available on singles or E.P.s attached to the respective albums. 'Too Much to See' is from the most recent Am Universum era ('Alone' single), 'Northern Lights' is from Tuonela ('Divinity' single), 'The Brother-Slayer' harks from Elegy's 'My Kantele,' and 'Moon and Sun' is from the ancient 'Black Winter Day' release. None of these are particularly good as they're fairly representative of what B-sides are all about; stuff that sounds similar to the album material, but not as good. The compilation suffers as a result.

      But let's not despair, there's a second disc of five Amorphis music videos that are alright, though not particularly enchanting (and nothing you can't just watch on YouTube these days), and the main interest here comes in the acoustic version of 'My Kantele.' Although this is a better and more skilfully arranged collection than the hasty and short-lived 'Story,' my major complaint with that earlier release is even more relevant here in the face of all these B-sides: where on earth is the 'Privilege of Evil' material? That early E.P. is one of the most essential Amorphis releases for metal fans, and would have caused a nice stir towards the end amidst the dinginess of 'The Karelian Ithmus.' No matter; Pasi Koskinen would leave Amorphis before the next studio album, which adds further relevance to this collection as a concluding summary of his time in the band, and the frankly better stuff they produced before he even came along.

      1. Alone (edit)
      2. Drifting Memories
      3. Too Much to See
      4. The Way
      5. Northern Lights
      6. Summer's End
      7. The Brother-Slayer
      8. Better Unborn
      9. My Kantele
      10. Weeper on the Shore
      11. Moon and Sun
      12. Black Winter Day
      13. The Castaway
      14. Drowned Maid
      15. Warrior's Trial
      16. Exile of the Sons of Uisliu
      17. The Lost Name of God

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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 Alone [Edited Version]
    2 Drifting Memories
    3 Too Much to See [*]
    4 Way
    5 Northern Lights [*]
    6 Summer's End
    7 Brother - Slayer
    8 Better Unborn
    9 My Kantele
    10 Weeper on the Shore
    11 Moon and Sun
    12 Black Winter Day
    13 Castaway
    14 Drowned Maid
    15 Warriors Trial
    16 Exile of the Sons of Uisliu
    17 Lost Name of God

    Disc #2 Tracklisting
    1 Alone [DVD]
    2 Divinity [DVD]
    3 My Kantele [DVD]
    4 Against Widows [DVD]
    5 Black Winter Day [DVD]