Saturday, January 2, 2010

Amorphis - Privilege of Evil EP (1993)

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.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10] (to terror in your eyes)

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