Saturday, January 2, 2010

Amorphis - Black Winter Day EP (1995)

Since most people probably own this release in its modern form, as an attachment of bonus tracks to the iconic Tales from the Thousand Lakes album, the physical product that is the Black Winter Day EP has very little independent value. However, if you are not privy to the CD release, and own the original LP, it's probably worth tracking down for the sake of completion, as the non-album material is decent enough to justify ownership. Featuring five tracks at about 17 minutes length, it's not a bad listen of its own accord.

As this EP was released post-Thousand Lakes, most people would already be familiar with the title track. "Black Winter Day" is really great, with its proggish Moog synthesizers and mix of gruff and clean vocals; circular melodies that embellish the pioneering folklish edge that the band would fully explore in its future releases. "Folk of the North" is probably meant as an intro, a brief piano piece with some percussion and guitars for atmosphere. It's not the highlight here, of course, as this duty falls to the two parts of "Moon and Sun". The former half features this amazing breakdown before :50 where the haunting organ plays as it summons back the guitars. "Moon and Sun Part II: North's Son" is longer, with a beautiful and desperate mid-pace that rocks hard through its inescapable melody and charging guitars. The cover of "Light My Fire" is almost silly, but in a strange way it actually fits Amorphis' direction towards 70s rock and folk, and it was the first guttural Jim Morrison I had heard by this point.

The bottom line for the Black Winter Day EP is that it's worth owning if you don't already have access to the "Moon and Sun" duology, a pair of great tracks that fit in well with the amazing album of the previous year. It was nice to not have to hold one's breath forever for a little more of the same...though the piano piece and Doors cover are curiosities at best.

Verdict: Win [7/10]
(death opens its mouth)

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