It’s Morphin’ Time!

Amorphis is back, baby! Actually, they never went anywhere, but Pasi Koskinen did. For whatever reason, Pasi exited the band after ‘Far From the Sun’ in 2003. I was sad to see him go, as I think Pasi’s vocals really gave a lot of strength to Amorphis’ later “post-metal” sound. But no sweat: the two albums after Far From the Sun are fookin’ slick. Apparently they got this cool cat called Tomi Joutsen to replace Pasi. At first I thought it must be Tomi Koivusaari (guitarist/old vocalist) again. I was wrong, it’s a different Tomi. But this new Tomi actually has a wider singing range.

I gotta admit, the last album that really piqued my interest was their ‘Tuonela’ album in 1999. All their records rule to some degree, Tuonela to me is perhaps their finest work. In fact, I still have an iron-on Amorphis t-shirt made back in high school from when Tuonela came out. So underground was I, with my internets music scenestery, that no one knew what that mysterious shirt displayed. I was not communicating with anyone. I didn’t know who I was. I was emo.

Actually, I was just in high school and a pretty cool dude. ‘Am Universum’ and ‘Far From the Sun,’ which directly follow Tuonela in the Amorphis album chronology, sound almost like they could’ve been influenced by the ’90s Finnish power trio, Kingston Wall. I guess this shouldn’t surprise anyone, since Amorphis did do a cover of, “And I Hear You Call” from Kingston Wall’s second album. I actually have read things about Amorphis playing Kingston Wall songs live or at tributes or something. But these new albums are much heavier than that. Amorphis’ brand of music always breaches death metal, power metal, progressive rock and folk while inclining towards none specifically. As a result it stays balanced and never gets cheesy.

The most recent two albums (Eclipse in 2005 and Silent Waters in 2007) are both something of a throwback to the ‘Tales From the Thousand Lakes’ era but retain this polished sense of composition that Amorphis has realized over their career. And the new singer’s performance ain’t half-bad. He does some deeper growls, but what stands out as really unique to Amorphis’ recent output, are his burly shouts/screams. Just the last 30 seconds on “Two Moons” totally blows me away. It really is wonderful when bands can still surprise you with their writing and performance abilities well into their career. Amorphis’ songs are subtlely melancholy and can sometimes have that “rainy day” vibe going on, but maintain a powerfully inspirational demeanor. Their recent work is no exception. I would almost say their “vibe” can remind me of Agalloch crossed with Kingston Wall, if that makes any sense to anyone. I guess the Kingston Wall thing is especially noticable in all the eastern-harmonic and arabesque melodies that Amorphis loves. That and they are/were fellow Fins.

I saw Tuonela listed as ‘doom metal’ on wikipedia, but this is not accurate at all. Anyone who enjoys the art of song craftmanship would do themselves quite the favor by picking up Tuonela right now. Not a song on the album can really be considered doom and it holds some of the finest “melancholy-yet-determined” songwriting ever.

Amorphis has earned themselves a unique niche in the world of metal and rightly so. They produce well-crafted songs that fill an entire album nicely and consistently offer something totally new with every couple of releases.

Buy it here.

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on July 8, 2007.

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