Classic review: Amorphis “Privilege of Evil” [Relapse Records]

Classic review: Amorphis “Privilege of Evil” [Relapse Records]

- in Reviews
Score 80%
Into the darkest depths
80 %
User Rating : 4.9 (1 votes)

Long before Amorphis played mellow sauna metal, they were yet another Finnish death metal band with no hints of what was to come in sight. Indeed, listening to Privilege of Evil might make one wonder if some massive line-up changes were the reason the band had changed so much over the years, but they really weren’t.

It would make perfect sense to compare Privilege of Evil to The Karelian Ishtmus, since the latter is the only death metal full length album of the band, yet it goes without saying that this EP is unlike any other Amorphis album. To give you a small hint: there’s an Abhorrence track present that doesn’t very sound different from the rest of these compositions…but there’s more to behold. The melodic twin guitars of The Karelian Ishtmus had yet to be used here; instead noisy dive bombs not unlike those of Lost Paradise (although this EP is clearly better) might make one feel anxious and even the melodic segments feel somewhat sinister and diabolical. By the time I stumble upon those spoken passage in “Pilgrimage of Darkness” it’s as if I’m standing face to face with the devil himself.

In terms of songwriting Privilege of Evil feels safe, yet does what is required of an EP. It doesn’t experiment with any fast forward-thinking or subtle experimentation that began to emerge in death metal at the time. The guitars are clearly Bolt Thrower-inspired, yet they don’t evoke pictures of war and terror – instead, they draw the listener into the darkest depths that monstrous barks echo in and out of. Unfortunately the band never tried to re-create such an environment and listening to Privilege of Evil does make me wonder why. From the pitch-black opener to the foreign, yet brute crunch of “Black Embrace” to the moody, yet oppressive force of “Excursing from Existence” it seemed that Amorphis had a lot of fun playing this kind of stuff.

While Amorphis would re-record several tracks for The Karelian Ishtmus, these original remain the better versions to my ears. The guitars not only sound massive, but also extremely ugly; as if they’re covered with filth that originates out of the Pohjola itself. Yet there’s nothing cavernous about the sound, either – it’s a good example of a production job that contributes to its atmosphere. Those who wonder what Amorphis were like in their death metal stage (in other words; when they were at their best) should certainly give Privilege of Evil a try. It’s pretty good.

Release date: December 5th, 1993

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I have been listening to metal since the age of... 14 or so. Besides music, I'm also interested in boxing, fitness, meeting new people and enjoy reading about a variety of topics.

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