Theme Thursday-Amorphis Song Meanings

In anticipation for Amorphis‘ upcoming release of The Beginning of Times next week, I thought I would bring you a handful of their older videos.  One of the things that I enjoy about Amorphis besides the awesome and diverse music that they create is their thematic material which revolves heavily around the Finnish national epic the Kalevala.  So included with each video I’ll give you a bit of the myth behind each of the songs.  And to save myself some time , I’ll leave a couple helpful links I used researching this if you would like to use some tangential learning delve deeper into the mythos and characters of the Kalevala.  Here’s the synopsis, the main characters, and here’s the translated into English text.  Some of these were really difficult to pinpoint because some of the songs aren’t directly based on the text of the Kalevala, but on plays, songs, and poems that were based on it. For a synopsis that I did previously on “Silver Bride” click here.  Hope you enjoy.  Peace Love and Metal.

Black Winter Day

This song may seem to be about seasonal depression on the outside, but it’s not.  It’s about Ilmarinen’s new bride and her troubles of leaving her homeland and the doubts and worries on her new husband.  Even though she is told that everything will be alright, she still has deep fear that something bad will happen.

Heaven of my Heart

Louhi, a powerful shape shifting witch, commissioned Ilmarinen to forge a magical device known as the Sampo(think of the cornucopia from Greek mythology) in exchange for her daughters hand in marriage.  This song is about the feelings he has at the completion of the Sampo.

My Kantele

This one is about Väinämöinen and his instrument, the kantele.  He makes the first kantele from the jawbone of a giant pike and a few hairs from Hiisi’s stallion. The music it makes draws all the forest creatures near to wonder at its beauty. Later, after losing and greatly grieving over his kantele, Väinämöinen makes another one from a birch, strung with the hair of a willing maiden, and its magic proves equally profound. It is the gift the eternal sage leaves behind when he departs Kaleva at the advent of Christianity.

The Smoke

After killing the wife of Ilmarinen by turning her cows into vicious bears, Kullervo flees from the blacksmith land.  While on his journey away from Ilmarinen’s land and on his way to find what is left of his family he calls to Ukko, the head diety, to never allow one as misfortune and wretched as himself to be born.  He eventually meets the maiden of the forest which he has dreamed about and she tells him that his family is still alive.

House of Sleep

Kullervo eventually finds his family and one day while running an errand for his father he meets a girl.  He seduces her and they eventually make love.  After the deed they talk about their families and it becomes known that the girl he just slept with is his sister, whom was pronounced dead by his mother.  She immediately commits suicide and Kullervo returns home and tells his mother that he is to kill himself for his act.  She pleads against it, but Kullervo decides that before offing himself he is going to go Untamo(the one who killed his people) and exact vengeance.  He tells her that it is something that he must do and she is now the mistress of the family.

Silent Waters

Lemminkäinen on a mission to shoot the black swan of Tuonela(the Finnish land of the dead) with his crossbow.  When he reaches the river of Tuoni he meets a herdsman.  The herdsman is extreamely angry with him because Lemminkäinen didn’t enchant him with a spell that he had previously enchanted the entire village that the herdsman was from.  He didn’t enchant the herdsman because the herdsman was wretched and he Lemminkäinen felt it would be a waste of his energy.  In revenge the herdsman summons a serpent which kills Lemminkäinen and then he pushes his dead body into the river and is torn into pieces by the son of the Tuoni.

This song is about when Lemminkäinen’s mother learns of his death and searches for him.  When she finds him she uses a magical rake that she had commissioned Ilmarinen to build for her to dredge the river for the pieces of her sons body.  She puts him back together and pleads to the gods to bring him back to life.  The gods oblige her and she returns home with her son.

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About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on May 26, 2011, in Theme Thursday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. It’s great to be back in the motherland. I would have responded to this post sooner, but it was hectic in ‘Bama and flights were delayed out the yingyang, but I am finally home and able to pick back up with posts.

    Amoprhis has such a well-rounded tracklist. I imagine they would be great to see live, I am sure they would bring out their A-list tracklist and really show the crowd what they are capable of.

    Their lyrical content is deep. Lot’s of bands have great lyrics, but based on your theme for last week, Amorphis really has quite a story to tell. I bet it would make for a great mini-series or a great movie with sequels with Amorphis music as the score.

    I enjoyed Silent Waters and House of Sleep. I think what I am going to do is pick up their new release and then back track their albums as time and money allows. Amorphis will be a great new edition to the music library.

    Thank you for taking the time for such an in-depth post. There is real storytelling with Amorphis which garners my respect as a metal fan. They separate themselves from the vast majority of metal bands when it comes to compelling ideas behind their music.

    • Glad you’re enjoying Amorphis. These guys got some serious chops. As much as I love their older albums, they really hit the mark when they picked up their current singer Tomi Joutsen, that dude has some great pipes and nails the clean vocals perfectly and when he growls he shakes the room.
      I love their lyrical content and how it works on multiple levels, the folklore aspect and like the folklore the passages and stories can be used in a modern sense.
      I would love to see a miniseries on the Kalevala, theirs a lot of interesting stories in it and I think it would translate well to film, and the huge success of “Game of Thrones” is proving that people really want to see epics on their t.v.s.
      I’m looking forward to seeing Amorphis when they hit Milan in Sept. I’ve watched some live videos of them and they are really tight live, can’t wait to see it for myself.
      Welcome back to E.U.!!!

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