Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen – Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen (Nuclear Blast)

Tuesday, 25th May 2021
Rating: 8.5/10

Celebrated as one of Amorphis’ founding members, guitarist Esa Holopainen steps into his own territory with his first solo effort in Silver Lake. The progressive nature of Amorphis still resonates within this body of work, but it’s quite easy to see that Holopainen took advantage of being able to play outside the boundaries of said act with this solo effort. Silver Lake is a beautiful, relaxing, and occasionally rocking album that should please progressive fans (and Amorphis fans as well, of course).

Starting out with one of the most beautiful and instantly glorious sounding introductions in recent memory (“Silver Lake”), it’s as if the listener is suddenly wisked away into a serene setting somewhere in the woods. It’s a gorgeous track that sets an incredible mood for the release to come. However, the beauty is matched by the elegant gloom and melancholy that pervades follow-up “Sentiment.” One of the strongest tracks on the album, that sense of longing and gloomy brightness is effectively matched by Jonas Renkse’s (Katatonia) emotive vocals. Renkse returns for the close of the album with “Apprentice,” another strong and dreary melodic cut that offers an excellent solo and slightly more upbeat tone to resonate with the listener (plus a beauty of a chorus). But the album is far from a gloom-fest, particularly with some of the prog feelings and heavy riffs. “Promising Sun” is a nice fit for Bjorn Strid (Soilwork) with driving and grooving riffs with a flair for the progressive and an elegant, catchy chorus. Said track is followed by the Anneke van Giersbergen-led “Fading Moon,” which manages to flex some heavy riffs while still maintaining a more haunting feeling. Then there’s “Ray of Light,” which Einar Solberg (Leprous) vividly shines on, taking the light and bouncy prog melodies and giving them a unique sense of urgency.

While Holopainen definitely assembled an all-star squad of vocal talent, the real magic behind Silver Lake is the man himself. Crafting a dreamy and progressive world that delicately shifts between upbeat and melancholic, there’s a lot of ground covered across the album. Triumphant yet introspective, it invites you into a breathtaking world to live in, if only for a few moments.

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