New Amorphis Album “Circle” Next Month

Our fave Finnish progressive folk metalists Amorphis are back in late April with Circle, the follow-up to 2011’s solid but somewhat anti-climactic The Beginning of Time.

Circle has already been described as a concept(?) album based on an original story, marking the first time in Amorphis’ 20 year career that they have not based an album’s worth of songs on the Finnish national epic poem The Kalevala.

The first track is Hopeless Days, which you can sample for yourself right here.  Initial reviews I’ve read of the album basically describe it as not breaking any new ground and have given it middling-to-upper middle grades.  Amorphis is in possession of a sound and concept that is all their own, and I’m okay with them not breaking new ground since they broke major ground in their early days honing their sound.

Production on the new album from Hyprocrisy’s Petr Tagtgren roughens up some of the polished edges quite nicely here, though.  Enjoy Abysmally…


New Amorphis Video “You I Need”

My favorite Finnish band is back with another disc of some of my favorite sounds on the planet.  Amorphis is really a world unto themselves, and their new CD “The Beginning of Times” continues with their use of the Finnish national epic poem “The Kalevala” for inspiration.

To amazing effect.

This is the first video from the disc, which was released on June 7th.  A full Abysmal review is forthcoming, but in the meantime enjoy this taster.

Abysmally, of course….

Amorphis The Beginning of Times CD art

Amorphis – Magic and Mayhem (Tales from the Early Years)

File:Amorphis - Magic & Mayhem.jpg 2010 Nuclear Blast

I remember in high school and college talking with my bro Dr. Peto about how cool it would be if Iron Maiden went back and re-recorded their self-titled debut and Killers with Bruce Dickinson on vocals. Of course that never happened but man would it have been cool.

One of my absolute favorite bands is Finnish band Amorphis, and they just seem to get better and better with age. Further proof of this, as if 2009’s Skyforger wasn’t enough, is their new/old CD Magic and Mayhem – Tales From the Early Years.  New/old because they’ve re-recorded material from their early years…namely from The Karelian IsthmusElegy.   Some purists may scoff at me saying this, but everything is the better for it.

That’s not to slag the original recordings because they were excellent for sure, but there’s no denying the band sounds truly better than they ever have and the old material sounds better with Tomi Joutsen’s vocals. He is an absolute one-of-a-kind vocalist and the best thing that ever happened to this band.

Black Winter Day” was the song that initially made me a fan of Amorphis back in 1993, and I’m still in awe of how superior this re-recording is both production-wise and because of the inhuman vocal performance of Tomi Joutsen.  His deliberate and powerful roar is balanced by an equally powerful melodic voice that will have you shaking your head at the fact that both are from the same singer.

Their tongue-in-cheek cover of The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire” was a cool novelty when they originally recorded it during the “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” sessions, but it’s even better here and comes across as less of a mere novelty and more of an honest re-working of it in frightening Amorphis style.

In all, there are 3 remakes from The Karelian Isthmus, 5 from the classic Tales From the Thousand Lakes, 4 from Elegy and the aforementioned Doors cover as a bonus track (the original version is from the Black Winter Day EP).  Every single track is an improvement on the original.  Again, that’s not to slag the originals…it’s just that a once really good band is now great.

Highlights for me are Drowned MaidExile of the Sons of Uisliu, Sign From the North Side and the absolutely stunning reworking of My Kantele, which hypnotizes me the same way The Tea Party’s “Sister Awake” does.  I’ll stop right now before this gets any more ridiculous than it already is, because there’s no other band that consistently leaves me awestruck like Amorphis.  I honestly can’t believe what they have accomplished here.

Raging CD cover art, too…especially when you know the story behind the giant pike fish, as told on the song “Majestic Beast” from last year’s Skyforger CD.

Rating:  5 out of 5

CLICK HERE TO BUY Magic & Mayhem: Tales From the Early Years AND OTHER AMORPHIS MUSIC

Amorphis – Skyforger

skyforger_kansi  2009 Nuclear Blast

Every so often a band comes along whose greatness can’t be denied.   Amorphis is one of those bands.

Some hardcore fans still pine for the days of “Karelian Isthmus” or “Tales From the Thousand Lakes,” and the latter still stands as my favorite from Amorphis.   Possibly not for long.

Ever since the superb “Eclipse” from just a few years ago, I feel that Amorphis has hit a stride that finds them simply unable to write a weak song.   Their entire catalogue is worth a listen, as they really haven’t ever written a bad album.  Starting out as  pure extreme band with “…Isthmus,” Amorphis has evolved into perhaps the greatest band of their genre.   Their middle years were marked by consistent, though same-ey, releases until they melded the aggression of old with their melodic leanings of new on the aforementioned “Eclipse.”

Since then, they have been on a creative tear with “Silent Waters” and their latest masterpiece “Skyforger.”  The dark beauty and grandeur of this disc is simply beyond my feeble verbal attempts here.  It says a lot when, after following this band for the better part of 15 years, I have to admit that their best music is the music they’re creating in the present.

Quite frankly, leadoff track “Sampo” just might be my favorite Amorphis track ever with its seemless melding of  piano and guitar.  It’s almost unfathomable  how  they have woven melodic piano lines into such heavy music in a way that makes total sense.  I could go on and on, but the truth is that there’s not a weak track to be found here.   Single “Silver Bride” is a fair representation of their sound for any newcomers, melding grandeur and melancholic beauty like no band I’ve ever heard.

The hugeness of their sound is even more incredible given the fact that they’ve always been an indie band here in the US of A…production quality usually reserved for those who have mega-bucks behind them.   Man, this stuff just gives me goosebumps.  I’m sure I sound ridiculous writing this, but this is a truly amazing band with their own sound and talent for miles.  Extra props for Tomi Joutsen’s incredible vocal work melding melody, passion and aggression like no one else.

Now is as good of a time as any to discover this amazing Finnish band who will fill your speaker cabinets like they’ve never been filled before with majestic melancholic beauty and grandeur.  I have to stop now, as the only justice to be served is by listening to this disc for yourself.   No need to mention individual tracks as they’re all stellar.

Rating: 5 out of 5

CLICK HERE to buy Skyforger

7/23/09 Update:  Amorphis has officially outdone themselves as far as the Abyss is concerned.   This is a first…”Skyforger” has usurped “Tales From the Thousand Lakes” in the Ten Most Truly Abysmal CD’s, and has quickly become one of my alltime favorite discs…period.  What they’ve done here just leaves me in awe and I can’t get enough of this sound.   Majestic, melancholic, beautiful, melodic, aggressive…it’s all here in inimitable fashion.   Please buy this disc and help keep these guys in the business of making music.

Amorphis – Tales From The Thousand Lakes

   1994 Relapse

Amorphis is, quite simply, one of my favorite bands.  Their evolution from the pure death metal overtures of their first full length ‘The Karelian Isthmus’ to the amazing grandeur of 2007’s ‘Silent Water’ has been breathtaking.   ‘Tales From The Thousand Lakes’ was the turning point in the development of the Amorphis sound and was the first album I ever heard with a near perfect mix of guttoral vocals and clean melodic vocals.   I don’t know if they were the first to try it, but they were the first to get it right.

Amorphis bases their music on their native Finnish folklore, here basing it on the epic Kalevala.  This album is recognized by fans of the genre as a cornerstone of melodic death metal…some even credit the disc as the true genesis of the genre.  All I know is that it was unlike anything I’d ever heard at the time and it’s an easy inclusion on the 10 Best of the Abyss.

From the first notes of opener “Thousand Lakes” you can just feel that you’re about to be taken somewhere you’ve never been before.  The heaviness of the guitars and the power of the music is actually elevated by the tasteful use of keyboard textures, which often weave counter-melodies in and out of the main song riffs and bring both warmth and a sense of coldness at the same time.

My favorite track here has to be “Black Winter Day,” where the keyboards bring a very distinct fantasy-feel to the music.  I’m just drawn in by those keyboard melodies to this day, and I have to chuckle remembering my ex-wife hearing it for the first time and saying it sounded like irritating Nintendo music.   The world of Amorphis is one of longing, and one of fantasy and grandeur. 

Other favorite moments on this seemless disc are the amazing “Forgotten Sunrise” and album closer “Magic and Mayhem.”  Showing that these Fins have quite the sense of humor, the CD contains a bonus track – a remake of The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire” replete with those guttoral growls.  Death never sounded so sexy! hahahahahaha

Rating:  5 out of 5