The Karelian Isthmus

‘The Karelian Isthmus’ does further that recklessly snowballing early 90s black/death wave, but mostly into relatively less threatening waters. Compared to Norwegian and Swedish contemporaries, these Finns dial down the dissonance and integrate quite a few contrasting elements.

Florida death was undoubtedly a crucial catalyst – surging across the great Atlantic it caused numerous mutations within the European metal scene. Within the early Amorphis albums, especially ‘Privilege of Evil’ and ‘The Karelian Isthmus’, we can clearly hear this wave brushing up against a firm melancholic chill – that Black Sabbath like doom metal overtones.

This confrontation of an all razing morbid dissonance with a doom like texture was unique – ideal for integrating even more vibrant influences.

Amorphis goes on to deck this framework with folksy tremolo picking, thick downtuned grinds, progressive riffs and brutal blast beats. Deep growls of Celtic influenced lyrics – “Distant gate, gothic grave, through ages our clan still remain” – does add to that vital grimness. It’s Carcass and Grave like abrasiveness, but mellowed with Finnish cultural influences. Essentially, all the elements which eventually lead Amorphis to their epic Tales From the Thousand Lakes, and beyond, are exhibited here – but in subtle and intense measures.

By Jarno Koskinen [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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