Amorphis

Picture of Amorphis

The Karelian Isthmus

Amorphis - The Karelian Isthmus ©1992 Relapse
1. Karelia
2. The Gathering
3. Grails Mysteries
4. Warriors Trial
5. Black Embrace
6. Exile Of The Sons Of Uisliu
7. The Lost Name Of God
8. The Pilgrimage
9. Misery Path
10. Sign Of The North Side
11. Vulgar Necrolatry

The first legitamite Amorphis album was a promising piece of work. Steeped heavily in slower tempos and juicy leads, the death progression was both suggestive of something grand in the future and still harsh at the same time. Though there are moments when the album drags due to the lack of truly distinguishing differences between the songs, overall it is solid. Amorphis relied upon a good sense of riffology placed with simple, but fitting lead guitar lines for their main songwriting approach. But without much variance between songs, The Karelian Isthmus does bog down. Eventually you do feel like you've been listening to the same song throughout. That said, the album is still worthy of any fan of the band curious about their early years or someone interested in the melodic death metal that was just beginning to germinate in Europe at the time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/1999

Back to top

Privilege Of Evil

Amorphis - Privilege Of Evil ©1993 Relapse
1. Pilgrimage From Darkness
2. Black Embrace
3. Priveledge Of Evil
4. Misery Path
5. Vulgar Necrolantry
6. Excursing From Existence

I read somewhere that Amorphis themselves was upset to discover Relapse had re-released these demo recordings that showed the band in their earliest developmental state. However, when viewed as the precursor to The Karelian Isthmus, these recordings actually come across much better than one might expect. Even then, the band was fully diving into their inventive and unique style of progressive death metal. On occasion they blurred things with a bit too much blast beat but at the same time the subtle synths and good songwriting put them ahead of the game. The title track is a great example of rawness coupled with a haunting synth section. I wouldn't exactly describe Priviledge of Evil as amazing of a record as their true releases, but for original intent, the tape serves as a good historical bit.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

Back to top

Tales From The Thousand Lakes

Amorphis - Tales From The Thousand Lakes ©1994 Relapse
1. Thousand Lakes
2. Into Hiding
3. The Castaway
4. First Doom
5. Black Winter Day
6. Drowned Maid
7. In The Beginning
8. Forgotten Sunrise
9. To Father's Cabin
10. Magic And Mayhem

As many are aware, this is the album that really established Amorphis as a contender. Mixing homegrown folk influences with their death metal base, Tales from the Thousand Lakes is quite a decent piece of work. Esa Holopainen's tasteful and very tuneful leads are probably my favorite parts of the songs (check out his thing in "Drowned Maid") as they direct traffic and make the tunes very memorable. Vocalist/guitarist Tomi Koivusaari's low death rumblings are actually quite low-key and fit into the songs without being annoying. I didn't particularly care for the "clean" vocalist they used for occasional intrusion into the music as his voice was terribly nasal. To sum things up, this was a bit of a landmark for a band that has only grown in leaps and bounds.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

Back to top

Black Winter Day EP

Amorphis - Black Winter Day EP ©1994 Relapse
1. Black Winter Day
2. Folk Of The North
3. Moon And Sun
4. Moon And Sun Part II: North's Sun

Black Winter Day is essentially the companion EP to Amorphis' Tales from the Thousand Lakes. Your necessity to have this in your collection depends on a couple things. 1) Did you think Tales was the epitome of Amorphis' creativity? If so, proceed directly to your metal retailer and get a copy. 2) Do you like Elegy and Tuonela's clean vocal approach? If so, proceed with more caution. Black Winter Day isn't the most essential piece of the Amorphis puzzle, but for fans of that era, it is still quite worthwhile. The title track is shared on both the EP and Tales. "The Folk of the North" is a short keyboard composition. The following two are an extensive of the mildly folk influenced, heavy death sound of Tales, the better of the two tracks being "Moon and Sun Part II: North's Sun" as it contains a more invigorating keyboard underscore and a tastier melody. Overall, I would suggest Black Winter Day more for completists or those who couldn't get enough of the earlier Amorphis sound.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

Back to top

Elegy

Amorphis - Elegy ©1996 Relapse
1. Better Unborn
2. Against Widows
3. The Orphan
4. On Rich And Poor
5. My Kantele
6. Cares
7. Song Of The Troubled One
8. Weeper On The Shore
9. Elegy
10. Relief
11. My Kantele (Acoustic Version)

A few summers ago my attention was recaptured in regards to heavy metal, which I had essentially put aside in the early part of the 90s to explore punk and other styles. My main beef with metal in the early part of the decade was the rapid stagnation of many of the more noticeable bands and overall cheesiness that was pervading the scene. The benefit of this stagnation and retreat to the underground is that the bands who truly wanted to play metal did so without the distraction of the mainstream spotlight. That may have allowed for honest creativity. Eventually I came around to paying attention to metal again thanks to efforts of bands such as Amorphis, who were truly carving their own path.

Elegy is a truly remarkable album. Amorphis had spent the better part of the decade as a budding death metal band that kept sneaking melodic folk influence into their music. On Elegy, the band opted to add a second singer to handle the "clean" passages and dive headfirst into their brew of progressive-psychedelic death metal. As you can imagine, that is one scene not crowded at all. Elegy comes alive with warmth that some of the 70s progressive acts could only capture but with much more intricate and engaging guitar structure. There is a certain cold isolation to the music that does make it a little stark at first, but that could be attributed to the new band chemistry of the new singer and keyboardist. Elegy splits the vocals up between the somewhat gruff, but melodic clean singing and the old death vocals. The main thing about Elegy is that it covers a lot of musical territory between the heavier music of their roots and remarkably busy progressiveness. "Better Unborn" still is my favorite track on the album, opening with an exotic eastern sounding guitar. "Cares" features a really stunning folk break in the midst of the song that fully raises the property value. Overall, Elegy is a deep and expansive album that demands the listener's full attention. It so far has been the creative pinnacle of achievement for Amorphis as well as a highlight for metal in the 90s.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1999

Back to top

My Kantele EP

Amorphis - My Kantele ©1997 Relapse
1. My Kantele (acoustic Reprise)
2. The Brother Slayer
3. The Lost Son (The Brother Slayer Part Ii)
4. Levitation
5. And I Hear You Call

For those who have had their heads in the sand in the past couple years, Amorphis is that former Finnish death metal band who finally ditched their primitive roots and have been expanding exponentially ever since. Their last album Elegy was a moody, meloncholy mix of 90's metal, middle eastern snippets, 70's prog-rock and lyrically was based on poems from their culture. Naturally, the jaded music press cheered this album greatly.

This short five song EP is just a continuation of where that album ended, almost an extra chapter to a novel, so to speak. The first track reprises the acoustic "My Kantele" from Elegy, which is one of my favorite tracks from that album. The next two tracks are new compositions that take their style a bit further and more maturely than before. The band finally sounds completely comfortable in their aural approach, taking a bit of the 70's jam and some more prog in the Hawkwind vein. Clean singer Pasi Koskinen sounds more confident than before.

And it's funny I should mention Hawkwind, as the band covers "Levitation" and does a very credible job with it. This is followed up by a very Amorphi-sized version of Kingston Wall's "And I Hear You Call" which has a little of the old death metal vocals mixed in.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1997

Back to top

Tuonela

Amorphis - Tuonela ©1999 Relapse
1. The Way
2. Morning Star
3. Nightfall
4. Tuonela
5. Greed
6. Divinity
7. Shining
8. Withered
9. Rusty Moon
10. Summer's End

For all those who are still bitter that Amorphis hasn't released carbon copies of 1992's The Karelian Isthmus, please do not proceed any further into this review as it would be a waste of both our time. Now that those people have scurried off to attack any band that dares progress and evolve, let's explore this new Amorphis output. Tuonela goes a long way in establishing Amorphis primarily has a heavy progressive rock act more than anything else. Some have suggested they are becoming the new Hawkwind, but the band need be little more prolific for that honor. (No more three year gaps between full lengths!) But the somewhat futuristic - with a nod to the 70's - sound of Amorphis as well as their tendency to "jam" does give them an honorary Hawkwind feather. Tuonela acts as a logical step from Elegy and is a bit more straightforward. Vocalist Pasi Koskinen generally provides all the voices while the music is a wah-pedal filled guitar oriented rockfest with the keyboards and exotic instrumentation being regaled to a more subtle level. Generally any remaining vestiges of their death metal roots have been swept out the door. But unlike fellow countrymen Sentenced who have taken this route, Amorphis is continually becoming more interesting with each new album. Songs like "The Way" or "Divinity" are gripping and strong. Though there are some minor lags here and there, it is made up with the superb sense of hook in places like the chorus of "Shining" (you will get this stuck in your head). If you must have some sort of aggression like the old days, the growled vocals on "Greed" should provide you with that. Needless to say, while death metal purists will slag this record with their cries of "sellout", Tuonela is a record for the rest of the world who can fathom something besides mindless brutality in their music. I also must add that each step Amorphis takes is simply a good one.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

Back to top

Am Universum

Amorphis - Am Universum ©2001 Relapse
1. Alone
2. Goddess (of The Sad Man)
3. The Night Is Over
4. Shatters Within
5. Crimson Wave
6. Drifting Memories
7. Forever More
8. Veil Of Sin
9. Captured State
10. Grieve Stricken Heart

If all were right in the world, most of the Top 40 artists would be waiting tables, working in hair salons or as cabbies while Amorphis rode to the top of the charts. Having teased us with an interesting blend of 70s prog rock with a certain 90s heavy sensibility on Tuonela, Amorphis has dived fully into this new personal style and unleashed what may be their best record to date. Death metal purists: stop reading this review right now, go find your Dying Fetus records and shut the hell up while the rest of us marvel over what this unit has become.

Am Universum is easily the band's warmest, grooviest and most inherently digestible album to date. Simon Efemy's recording captures an overwhelming amount of glowing, fuzzy atmosphere, as well as allowing all the instruments to have their perfect sonic spot, never competing and fighting for room. Considering there are six members in Amorphis 2001 A.D., that is a neat little trick. The keyboards again are finding some prominence in Amorphis' sound, often conjuring up comparisons to whatever Hammond organ or keyboards you might find on any good 70s prog record. The guitarists continue their ever-improving skill on soulful leads and riffs that are so chock full of hooks you will think you fell into the storage room of a fishing boat. Pasi Koskinen's vocals are steady and as remarkable as they have been for his previous two outings with Amorphis. The songs are busy and have a lot going on within them, yet they are immediately cohesive, intelligent and able to stir up emotions. The immediacy of this record will cause many listeners to replay it over and over to absorb everything.

The most beautiful part of Amorphis' evolution is that Am Universum seems neither forced nor unnatural. Unlike their fellow Finnish mates, Sentenced, Amorphis has found a niche in a more ear friendly style without compromising good songwriting or sounding utterly bored with their new style. With any luck, those who previously haven't checked out Amorphis and are partial to a 70s flavored rock record with groove and melody will find Am Universum and share in what is already becoming of my favorites for 2001.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2001

Back to top

Far From The Sun

Amorphis - Far From The Sun ©2003 Virgin / EMI
1. Day of Your Beliefs
2. Planetary Misfortune
3. Evil Inside
4. Mourning Soil
5. Far from the Sun
6. Ethereal Solitude
7. Killing Goodness
8. God of Deception
9. Higher Ground
10. Smithereens

You can always tell when a band has hit a creative wall and is simply going through the motions on a record. Amorphis hit their career stride starting with 1996's fantastic Elegy and kept running through the equally excellent Tuonela. There was perhaps a moderate slowdown around Am Universum, but unfortunately, Far From the Sun is the sound of a band who doesn't seem particularly interested in their own music anymore.

Far From the Sun sticks to the general sound of its predecessor, Am Universum: midpaced heavy rock/metal with vintage sounding keyboards. The excitement level peaks at approximately the "I'm waiting in line at the post office and the person in front of me has eight packages to send off and each one requires special handling" stage, which is not exactly thrilling, as one might infer. The ten songs are far from memorable, each one sounding competent and lifeless. Amorphis found their fame by a willingness to push their style by infusing new elements and ideas, but unfortunately, this record is entirely too orthodox to be noteworthy.

Vocalist Pasi Koskinen, who joined the band before Elegy to provide "clean" singing, makes his last appearance with Amorphis on this record. Perhaps he knew that this band was entering a lull. I would wager that each Amorphis release up to this point has a variety of reasons to be included in your collection, but this one can definitely be skipped.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2008

Back to top