I have to admit that my relation to Amorphis is quite cold, or at least very limited. I checked out their second album, “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”, sometime back in the days because it seemed to be raised to the skies by each and every one, but I didn’t like it at all as the pretty soft melodic doom/death-metal on that album wasn´t my cup of tea at all.
Since then, I have not bothered to listen to Amorphis at all. Sure, I certainly have noticed that almost every album they release is overwhelmed with praise, but the interest in checking out new records by the band have been non-existent on my part, something I may have reason to change now!
As the new album, “Queen of Time”, kicks off with the phenomenal track “The Bee”, it’s not the goth rock (that all melodic doom/death bands sooner or later seem to emulate into) that I expected that burst out from the speakers, but something completely different. The music can only be described as a mix of modern, progressive, folk influenced and, last but not least, extremely melodious metal. Although “metal” with some reservation, for at times it leans more to pop than rock/metal, even if it seems that a hard riff always wait around the corner.
And the music is good! Most of the times, even really good!
Although the songs on a few occasions are on the verge of being a bit “too much”, like the very Elvenking-sounding folk melody in “Message in the Amber”, Amorphis manage to keep the melodies on a decent and tasteful level and there is always something somber lurking in the shadows, making the songs comfortable to listen to even for us with a taste in somewhat more sinister kind of music. In addition to the well written songs comes Tomi Joutsens beautiful and melancholic voice, which reminds me a bit of Aaron Stainthorpes (My Dying Bride) bittersweet singing, and he also manage to deliver some amazing growl to top that off!
The growlin bit, which I usually feel is somewhat misplaced when used in “softer” music, actually works out very nice at “Queen of Time”. Unlike other melodic bands that use growl, mostly as means of sounding a bit tougher than they really are, Tomis growl actually adds something to the songs. For example, the harsh screaming in the refrain in “Daughter of Hate” where the growling effectively accentuates the angry mood of the lyrics.
Amorphis even manage to pull off the usage of the much hated, at least when it comes to hard rock and metal, Saxophone without ruin it, and that can only mean that the surrounding music must be good!
Even if I find the album to be really good I must admit that the song quality drops a bit during the second half of the record and although they still are good, the last couple of songs are not really up to pair with the first tracks. I still see “Queen of Time” as a really positive surprise though and I will definitely recommend it to everyone who likes grandiose, melancholic and melodic music, don’t fearing the songs being a bit on the “poppy” side. I’m convinced that “Queen of Time” will be a new success for Amorphis and this time, I’m inclined to agree with the expected acclaim!
Title: Queen of Time
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of Release: 18/5-18
Playing Time: 57:29
Stand out track: The Golden Elk