Review SILVER LAKE by ESA HOLOPAINEN ‘Silver Lake By Esa Holopainen’

Esa Holopainen is known as founding member and guitarist of Amorphis, one of the strong representatives of Finnish metal. It was in spring 2020 when Holopainen received a phone call from Nino Laurenne, producer and owner of the Sonic Pump, which is a recording facility. The core question to the guitarist was, if it wouldn’t be the right time to start working on a solo album, an opportunity Holopainen couldn’t resist.

That Holopainen is a great riff deliverer is well-known from Amorphis, and Silver Lake, the moniker of his solo project, shows a new aspect of the guitarist. The self-titled debut is not so much about harsh riffs and melodic growls. Sensitivity and a soulful glance make the nine songs on this album shine brightly.

When getting the possibility to record a solo album, the Finnish musician had three songs locked and loaded, being the backbone for the album. A question that had to be answered though was, if the album should be an instrumental one or if singers should be involved. One thing was apparent though. Holopainen decided not to sing himself. The decision was to work with vocalists and Silver Lake could convince great singers to contribute to this stellar debut.

Photo credit: Juuso Soinio

There is e.g. Leprous Einar Solberg, who enriches ‘Ray of Light’ with his vocals. The song is a progressive influenced masterpiece that shines through a great chorus and an emotional intensity. Collaboration wasn’t very easy in the times of a pandemic and therefor everybody basically contributed from home to the album. Thanks to technical possibilities and internet, such a way of working was doable and didn’t limit the great result.

Basically you can drop the needle at any spot on this longplayer. You will not be disappointed. There is the melodically rocking ‘Promising Sun’ with Björn ‘Speed’ Strid behind the mic and it is now less than Anneke Van Giersbergen, providing emotional depth to ‘Fading Moon’. A singer that has two contributions on ‘Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen’ is Jonas Renske (Katatonia). Holopainen makes use of the wider vocal spectrum of the singer. ‘Sentiment’ represents the very soulful aspect, being an half-acoustic song that touches the listener with melancholic beauty and hooks being terrific. This song blossoms right away and the same goes for ‘Apprentice’, reflecting a similar approach. In this context, ‘In Her Solitude’ can be seen as a counterpart. The song is a heavier one with Amorphis buddy Tomi Joutsen adding clean vocals as well growls.

‘Silver Lake By Esa Holopainen’ became an exceptional good solo debut, showing the Amorphis guitarist in a slightly different context. Each of these songs is a little treat that spreads a magical vibe one can’t resist. This longplayer is a highlight in 2021.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Silver Lake
  2. Sentiment (feat. Jonas Renkse)
  3. Storm (feat. Håkan Hemlin)
  4. Ray Of Light (feat. Einar Solberg)
  5. Alkusointu (feat. Vesa-Matti Loiri)
  6. In Her Solitude (feat Tomi Joutsen)
  7. Promising Sun (feat. Björn ‘Speed’ Strid)
  8. Fading Moon (feat. Anneke Van Giersbergen)
  9. Apprentice (feat. Jonas Renkse)

Label: Nuclear Blast

Genre: Progressive Rock

Release Date EU: May 28th, 2021

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