Introducing a new vocalist into an established band is never an easy move at the best of times. However, in the case of Amorphis, the decision to replace singer Pasi Koskinen with Tomi Joutsen in 2005 was not only successful, but very smart, as 2006's "Eclipse" was one of the band's more inspired and well-received releases in years. Obviously still inspired by the new lineup, Joutsen, rhythm guitarist Tomi Koivusaari, lead guitarist Esa Holopainen, bassist Niclas Etelävuori, keyboardist Santeri Kallio and drummer Jan Rechberger are back with "Silent Waters," marking a mere 18 months between albums.
In a lot of ways, the 10 new tracks arenít too far removed from the template laid down by 1999ís "Tuonela" and the band successive releases. But thatís not to say that the Finnsí album sounds like a collection of leftovers. "Silent Waters"ówhich, like previous Amorphis albums, is based on "Kalevala," an epic poem that is considered to be one of the most significant pieces of Finnish literatureósees the progressive/folk/melodic metal act take a step beyond what "Eclipse" offered while remaining true to its unique sound.
"Weaving The Incantation" is a bombastic mix of heavy riffs and acoustic passages, Joutsenís dual clean and death metal vocals, subtle organ backing and huge harmonic guitar solos make the song the perfect way to introduce "Silent Waters." The hard-edged and rocking follow-up numbers "A Servant" and the lead single/title track continue the same heavy direction. Then the brooding "Towards And Against" starts with heavy guitar work and impressive death growls from Joutsen before breaking free with a huge uplifting chorus that is as impressive as it is memorable.
"I Of Crimson Blood" is certainly one of the more dynamic and epic numbers from the band this time around, with the piano giving the song a melancholy feel that perfectly compliments the subdued guitar work. The slower-paced "Her Alone" is also a credit to Joutsenís ability to deliver real emotion.
On the folk front, the acoustic-driven "Enigma" is a huge anthem that is nothing short of a masterpiece. The mid-paced "Shaman"; the darker, twisted "The White Swan" and "Black River" (which strangely reminds us of "Love Over Gold"-era Dire Straits at the beginning) finish the album in a strong manner.
"Silent Waters" is a huge reinvention for Amorphis over "Eclipse," the band is also at its most inspired in years, easily making this its first classic since "Tuonela."