AMORPHIS

"Magic & Mayhem - Tales from the Early Years" (Nuclear Blast; 2010)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

To commemorate their 20th anniversary, Finnish metal veterans Amorphis have gone back into their vast catalog to re-treat some of their older material on the long-running unit’s latest 13-track excursion "Magic & Mayhem - Tales from the Early Years."

Being held in high regard as one of European metal’s elite acts, Amorphis does an admirable job of upgrading tunes from their first three albums to match modern standards, though a haphazard cover of “Light My Fire” by The Doors does the band no favors and just as easily could have been left off the disc.

Nonetheless, this release provides a grandiose revisit through a storied band’s career for both ardent fans that miss the band’s former style and inquiring minds wondering what all the fuss is over alike.

For more information visit http://www.amorphis.net

"Silent Waters" (Nuclear Blast; 2007)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I have never been more devastated by the drop in quality of one of my favorite band’s recordings as I was by Amorphis’ “Far From the Sun.”  However, the follow-up effort, “Eclipse,” did everything to restore my faith in the band as a creative musical force.

Building on the success of “Eclipse,” Amorphis have quickly returned with “Silent Waters” which features inspired performances and inspired songwriting to match the band’s stellar past efforts (“Tales from the Thousand Lakes,” “Elegy,” and “Tuonela”). The best part about “Silent Waters” is the significant songwriting contributions from various band members leading to a solid effort.

“Silent Waters” was produced by Amorphis with vocal production assistance by Marco Hietala.

Amorphis: Tomi Joutsen on vocals, Esa Holopainen on lead guitar, Tomi Koivuassari on rhythm guitar, Niclas Etalavuori on bass, Santeri Kallio on keyboards, and Jan Rechberger on drums. 

For more information visit http://www.amorphis.net

"Eclipse" (Nuclear Blast; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Finnish metal sextet Amorphis have undergone a few metamorphosis moments in their seventeen year career -- going from full-on death metalists to a darker folk metal entity -- yet the resilient troupe remains undaunted. 

"Eclipse" is the outfit's latest offering, a 10-track affair that features the band's new lead singer and their rediscovered experimental metal side which shines brightly through cuts like "House of Sleep" and "The Smoke."

Imagine Opeth ("Perkele"), Pink Floyd, and Paradise Lost jockeying for the remote control on your couch to get an idea of what to expect from these shape-shifting metal dudes who continuously push the envelope and release intriguing albums that challenge metal's conventions. 

For more information visit http://www.amorphis.net.  

"Am Universum" (Relapse; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Am Universum" continues Amorphis' move towards a mellower, more majestic musical path. The atmospheric death metal days of "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" may be completely gone now, but Amorphis' evolution is inspired and will cement their soon-to-be legendary status in the upper echelon of the metal universe.

The songs on "Am Universum" are very well constructed. The hooks (and make no mistake about it, there are hooks) meld seamlessly into the heart of the songs making them more memorable and nearly unforgettable.  Highlights include the pre-choruses that transport the listener from the setting stage of the verses into the emotional impact of the choruses.

The lethal combination of Pink Floyd-styled echo-y guitars combined with Finnish folk influenced melodies makes for great listening. Amorphis add color and texture with the extend use of saxophone, flute, and trumpet in nearly every song on "Am Universum" - some purists may see this as a detriment, but those purists would be selling themselves short. The jam-ethos of the '70s plays an important part in the music as the guitar-keyboard interplay is remarkable. Pasi Koskinen's vocal performance is stellar and a welcome angle of the band's continued growth. 

Amorphis have clearly stated their modus operandi: never stagnate. With 1999's "Tuonela" Amorphis began to sound complete and whole; with "Am Universum" Amorphis now sounds larger than the sum of its parts - very few bands can make that claim. As Amorphis continue to evolve there is no doubt in my mind that the evolution doesn't stop with "Am Universum"; better things can be expected from Amorphis in the future. 

"Am Universum" was produced by Simon Efemey (Paradise Lost, Deceased).  The production is stellar all the way around. With "Tuonela" the mix was pretty dense as all the instruments got equal treatment in the mix; this is not the case with "Am Universum." "Am Universum" sounds great whether played softly or loudly. The production and mixing on "Am Universum" highlights the facets of the music that make the songs stronger - one can never discount the value of high production values in metal.

Amorphis is Pasi Koskinen on vocals, Esa Holopainen on lead guitars, Tomi Koivusaari on rhythm and acoustic guitars, Niclas Etelavuori on bass, Santeri Kallio on keyboards, and Pekka Kasari on drums. Sakari Kukko contributes flute, trumpet, and saxophone. 

For more information visit http://www.amorphis.net.  

"Tuonela" (Relapse; 1999)amorphis.jpg (11649 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

This haunting album from Finland's Amorphis is a stunning piece of work. The production is amazing - a technical marvel. Although this is a more commercial effort than previous offerings from Amorphis (the band is likely to take its fair share of criticism from longtime fans), one cannot deny the ability of this band to challenge people's perceptions of heavy metal. Borrowing from the past and heading into the future, Amorphis are creating a sound that's all their own. This is one of the better discs that I have been fortunate to discover in the last year.

Lyrically the disc is appealing as it touches on a variety of human emotions; musically the disc crawls under your skin in a pleasant kind of way.

The first three tracks start off in an energetic fashion. The pure primal emotion of "The Way" leads into the downright infectious "Morning Star" followed by the mysterious "Nightfall."

The moody title track gives a slight breather before blasting into a doom-laden "Greed." Somehow the band makes it all seamless - the two pieces don't sound at odds next to each other. "Withered" manages to conjure the spirit of '70s metal, '80s alternative, and the '90s revival of majestic progressive guitar all in one track. "Rusty Moon" is a solid track that is indicative of how the vocals are not rushed and presented in a flowing manner.

The key to this disc, as I hear it, is the band's lush musical passages between verses and choruses. Overall, the band's sound is quite elaborate - the music is woven like tight fabric from strong threads.  By no means does the complex nature of the music detract from the power of the songs. When a band moves effortlessly between genres as well as musical history, you know you're in for a treat.

Pasi Kosikinen is the vocalist, Tomi Koivusaari plays rhythm guitar and sitar, Esa Holopainen plays lead guitar and acoustic guitar, Olli-Pekka Laine plays bass, and Pekka Kasari plays drums. Keyboards were added by Santeri Kallio. Saxophone was contributed on two tracks and flute on another track by Sakari Kukko of the influential Finnish band Piirpauke.

For more information on Amorphis check out http://www.relapse.com/ and
click bands and then click Amorphis.

"Elegy" (Relapse; 1996)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Widely regarded as one of the best heavy metal releases of 1996, "Elegy" is a wondrous mix of Euro-styled death metal combined with a healthy infusion of folk melodies, psychedelic guitar, and magnificent keyboards.

At times relaxed and at other times invigorating, "Elegy" is a canvas upon which Amorphis make something new out of a vast variety of heavy metal forms. Heavy metal fans cannot ask for a better effort yet Amorphis goes largely unnoticed - is there any justice?

The lyrical source for "Elegy" is the Kanteletar; the Kanteletar is comprised of more than 700 poems that detail Finnish folklore. Some of the poems are more than a thousand years old; the legendary stories of the Kanteletar inspire Amorphis to new heights as the hopes, desires, and philosophies of the Finnish people are woven into majestic and emotional tales.

There are great songs aplenty on "Elegy." "The Orphan" is remarkable for its watery intro and legato melody. "My Kantele" is stunning for its emotional grasp and "Weeper On The Shore" is heavy on the wah-wah guitar. The title track is simply amazing; you've never heard anything as eloquent and scary as the depth of "Elegy" evokes. The song "On Rich And Poor" actually seems like a prototype for the melodic death style that In Flames are making so popular these days. The balance of guitars and keyboards on "Song Of The Troubled One" is striking.

"Cares" is one track that deserves extra special mention. "Cares" is everything a song should be as it cuts huge swaths of driving force and death metal growls before switching into very folk-influenced sections reminiscent of a town gathering of elders to play traditional songs passed down from generation.

However, "Elegy" is not perfect. The melody for "Against Widows" seems forced and a bit stunted while the instrumental "Relief," despite the presence of Satriani-esque melodies, lacks a bit of character.

"Elegy" is the last Amorphis album to prominently feature death metal vocals. Clean vocals make serious impact on "Elegy" as Pasi Koskinen became the full-time clean vocalist for the band. The juxtaposition of Pasi's clean vocals and Tomi's death metal growling is a fine mix.

Although not as immediately affecting as 1999's "Tuonela," "Elegy" is a magnificent work of art that can be enjoyed by many fans of the heavy metal genre.

"Elegy" was produced by Amorphis. Self-production is a tricky venture and the sound is a bit murky at times, but more often than not Amorphis never lose sight of the sound they're trying to achieve.

Amorphis is Pasi Koskinen on lead vocals (clean), Tomi Kouvusaari on rhythm guitars and vocals (harsh), Esa Holopainen on lead guitars and sitar, Olli-Pekka Laine on bass, Kim Rantala on keyboards, and Pekka Kasari on drums.

For more information visit Amorphis' official web site at http://www.amorphis.net/ and hear the tales of this Finnish band.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

Back to CD Reviews Home

Back to RoughEdge.com Home

Copyright © 2011 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Sep 2014 00:34:34 -0500 .