on 30 May 2011
Two years after the brilliant release of "Skyforger", Amorphis is finally back with a new album. And what an album this is! I don't want to sound like a fan-boy but the beauty and quality of the music that these guys create is undeniable.
Although a logical step and in the same spirit of "Skyforger", "The Beginning of Times" is by no chance a repetition as it has a lot of new things to offer. Tomi Joutsen sounds as confident as ever and performs with great emotion and power. The growls appear a bit more often on this album and sometimes you get the feeling of "Skyforger" intersecting with the bands' back catalogue (the album "Elegy" could be an example). Also, for the first time we get a more extensive use of female vocals (backing up a nice melody or a refrain, perfectly complementing Tomi's vocals).
All songs are very memorable, heavy and melodic, catchy but deep. As always, there are excellent intros, heavy riffs, amazing melodies and great solos (with the distinct sweet sound of Esa Holopainen), beautiful piano parts, acoustic guitars, etc. It is certainly a majestic album which marks a new beginning for the band!
Overall, I would say that the album is slightly heavier compared to "Skyforger" without lacking the catchiness, the quality and the inspiration. There are thousands of good bands out there but very few have their own distinctive sound and personality. This is what makes Amorphis an amazing band and not just an ordinary good band. Definitely in my top 3 of 2011!
PS1 Of course the digipack version includes a nice bonus track (13 tracks overall!)
PS2 How did they do it again?
on 1 June 2011
I was anxious about this album as I half expected that after 3 excellent, evolving albums Amorphis would somehow fail to make a step forward and become a bit of a cliché. Well, they managed to negate my fears profoundly.
In "The Beginning Of Time", Amorphis again manage to make a step forward in both their sound and approach to making music. This is a much heavier album than the previous two, flirting sonically and melodically with their early releases "Elegy" and "Tales Of The Thousand Lakes"; however, the melodies are faster and the overall sound not quite so dark and melancholic. The atmosphere Amorphis create with their music, especially with the guest female and choir vocals, many growling passages by Joutsen and the amount of double-pedal drumming is sometimes reminiscent of some Norwegian melodic black/doom metal bands, but even as Amorphis once again resort to a heavier sound the melos remains much influenced by folk music. On the album, you will find all the trademark Amorphis riffs and licks, and - a welcome change in comparison to the previous few albums - a lot of progressive time signatures.
All in all, this is an outstanding album; and even though it might lack an obvious chart hit it is much more memorable and makes more impact than any of their other recent releases.
on 12 October 2011
Well, where do I start? This album is one hell of a ride through excellent heavy riffs, acoustic passages, double bass pedals and thunderous drums, with a backbone of clear and crisp bass and a flick-switch of clean singing and growling vocals. Ever such well crafted songs, all flowing nicely together. I don't have much to compare to as I've only heard this album, Tuonela, Am Universum and Silent Waters, but judging by all four of these releases this is by far the better one, although saying that all are great and unique masterpieces in their own worlds and ways. Quite folky in some places, almost thrashy in others, melodic guitars throughout, this is a very special release indeed! There are no weak tracks, and none of them sound the same, but the last song's just as good as the next. 5 stars!
Every time Amorphis release a new album, I go nuts for it. As a general rule, this has been justified, because since I got into them when they released Elegy in 1996, I've loved pretty much every one of their albums (with the exception of Far from the Sun, which I thought was merely very good). The Joutsen era trilogy of Eclipse, Silent Waters and SkyForger for me represents some of their most cohesive and powerful work, although I did miss some of the more experimental aspects of Am Universum and Tuonela. So when I heard that this album was a bit more dark and complex and experimental than the previous 3, my expectation was for the same type of thing found on those previous albums. And once again, Amorphis have confounded my expectations and delivered something I did not see coming. And for the most part, they've been very successful. But not entirely.
What immediately differentiates The Beginning of Times from the previous Joutsen era material is the song structures. The last 3 albums have all been relatively straightforward, with each some having one idea or motif at its core, which is then played with for the duration of the song (see "The Servant" from Silent Waters as a particularly good example of this). This gives each song a strong identity. The Beginning of Times ditches this, and instead is a lot more twisty and progressive, while still retaining a strong song identity. Each song, bar a few early singles like You I Need, starts in one place and ends up somewhere totally different. In fact, it reminds me most of Elegy in this regard. As such, it takes a lot longer to take hold, and is not as catchy as some of their other material.
Most of the songs here are extremely well written, however there are a couple of tracks on the 2nd half of the album that don't stand up against the others, hence the star knocked off. It's evident that Amorphis felt that after 3 albums of fairly similar (albeit excellent) tunes, something different was needed to avoid falling into a rut, and I heartily concur, but I can't help thinking that maybe they've tried to be a bit too ambitious here, and maybe concentating more on fewer songs would have served them better. The digipack has 14 songs, of which there are 2 slightly weaker ones, and a few weaker moments in some of the other songs. A bit of trimming and self-editing here and there I think would have bumped this up to a 5 star album. As it stands though, its still a thumping ride, and it Amorphis have once again proved themselves as exceptional musicians. I just hope they bring back the jazzy sax next time, that was quality.