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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£5.89+ £1.26 shipping

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Per capita, Finland spends more money than any other country on musical education. That goes some way towards explaining the wealth of musical talent that has emerged from those shores in recent years, among its brightest stars Nightwish, Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Swallow the Sun, Ensiferum, Wintersun and - at the top of the pile - Amorphis. Upon hearing Amorphis, it's tempting to think that their musical gifts must have come from the Viking gods. While this may be part of the story, the rest is that the band has relentlessly rehearsed, composed, recorded and toured for over two decades.

In 2006 Amorphis created an album that demonstrated mastery of their craft. That album was Silent Waters, a vast and varied pastiche of brutal heaviness, mythological themes, immaculate composition, perfect execution, and melodies so delicate they seem otherworldly. The next two Amorphis albums - Skyforger and The Beginning of Times - have the trademark Amorphis sound, a unique blend of heaviness and melody, yet lack the consistent brilliance of Silent Waters. With Circle, Amorphis is back on breathtaking form...and then some. Words can't do justice to the magnitude of this album. A swathe of mythic lyrics, jagged riffs, beautiful composition, wall-crumbling bass and drums, soaring vocals and eye-wateringly gorgeous melodies, Circle has to be heard to be believed. This is the sound of metal with the blinkers taken off and all limits blown sky high.

Here's the track-by-track breakdown.

1. Shades of Gray
Far from the lightweight opening of previous album The Beginning of Times, this kicks off proceedings with riffs that bite like a hungry beast, followed by a bridge and chorus reminiscent of Skyforger opener Sampo. That is no bad thing. The guitar solo is sublime: a folky melody played on clean-toned electric guitars. Tomi Joutsen alternates between clean-vocalled soaring and brutal growls. Light and shade in equal doses. A perfect opener.

2. Mission
A brief piano intro leads into a gargantuan guitar riff. This is Amorphis on their home ground: gorgeous Scandinavian melodies played with extreme heaviness that magnifies the impact. Flawless and straight from the Silent Waters school of music. Tomi's vocals are clean throughout.

3. The Wanderer
Not a million miles from Silver Bride in its melody, the chugging guitars of the verse lead into another quintessentially Amorphis chorus, Tomi's vocals soaring over piano, guitars, bass and drums. Like Shaman from Silent Waters, the track lacks real bite or heaviness but is no worse off for it, the melody evocative enough to carry the song.

4. Narrow Path
The flute intro leads to a riff that's pure Thin Lizzy (no bad thing!). The Celtic theme continues throughout the song, as Lizzyesque riffs meld perfectly with Tomi's anthemic vocal. Somewhere, Phil Lynott is listening to this and smiling. Once again, the guitar solo is worthy of mention. It resonates in my soul and makes me smile. Genius.

5. Hopeless Days
The verse's guitars and drums are tribal in the style of Saigon Kick's Peppermint Tribe. Again, Joutsen's vocals soar high above chugging riffs. Midway through, the track segues into a section that's eerily close to the 'bow down before the one you serve' part of NIN's Head Like a Hole, but delivered in undeniably Amorphis style. The track could be accused of being too derivative, merely piecing parts of other bands' songs together into a Frankensteinish whole, but that whole works as a song in its own right, so I can overlook the perhaps-too-obvious tips of the hat to other artists.

6. Nightbird's Song
Half a minute of delicate intro is followed by a roar from Tomi and a riff that's atypically discordant and almost black metal in its tone. This soon gives way to the more familiar sounds of clean guitars and soaring vocals. After a prog-rock section with Jethro-Tullish flute (really), a second roar from Tomi signals a return to heaviness. A diverse song, this fuses many musical styles into a coherent whole with its own identity.

7. Into the Abyss
This tune - from its piano intro to the choral-style backing vocals and soundtrackesque guitars - could easily be Nightwish. Only Tomi's vocals, which are absolutely recognisable, give away that this is Amorphis. Twin guitars - one clean-toned, the other down-tuned - drive the song with a chugging rhythm, above which soars another amazing vocal from Tomi.

8. Enchanted By the Moon
A poignant melody is delivered with extreme heaviness. Jan Rechberger's drum performance is inhuman. Enchanted by the Moon is a modern-day sea shanty played by Vikings with command of both brutal heaviness and heart-wrenching melody.

9. A New Day
Epic. A slow burner driven by more inhuman drumming by Jan Rechberger and meandering bass from Niclas Etelävuori. Anthemic metal at its best.

10. Dead Man's Dream
No messing about. The track starts out as pure death metal, its riffs from Hell accompanied by Tomi Joutsen's demonic growls. Masters of light and shade, Amorphis soon transition into a cleanly sung bridge and chorus carried by Santeri Kallio's Faith-No-Moresque keyboard and the spectacular twin-guitar delivery of Tomi Koivusaari and Esa Holopainen. Special credit must go to Jan Rechberger, whose drumming is once again breathtaking.

An amazing accomplishment. If you buy one metal album in 2013, make it Circle.
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on 3 May 2013
I keep expecting that Amorphis will eventually make an Album that i don't like, but this isn't it. In fact its better than their last one and that was my album of the year.

All you have to do here is unwrap it (the packaging on my Digipak is lovely as well) and play track 8 "Enchanted By The Moon". Here they've chucked in a Morricone style keyboard/ harmmony motif then halfway through it turns into Powerslave-Era Maiden before ending with a keyboard solo! The breadth of influence and invention in one track alone is ridiculous, all held together by a chorus too!

The album is more varied than their last offering, with some tracks being a lot harder than on "Beginning of Times" and "Skyforger", but have no fear elements of both of those remain and there are some delightful "poppy" hooks and epic harmonies in several tracks. Also some intriguing use of classical/folk instruments. In fact there are elements of all their back catalogue here in this one album. I haven't heard an average track so far and my only small criticism is the production is a bit too light, you can tell Tagtren was involved thats for sure.
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on 5 July 2014
Just recently introduced to this band. Saw them live without knowing any of their music, thanks to the opening band being a favorite of mine. I'll preface my review by saying I'm not a huge metal fan (the metal I like is more old school , Led Zeppelin etc...) and death metal is not on my radar. However saying that, these guys really surprised me with how much I liked their music. During the concert the melodic side of their music really caught my interest. I believe it was the song "Narrow Path" that started it off. The song has a strong Celtic melody to it, which was a pleasant surprise. Then I really started to listen for the other folk elements in the music and now I'm hooked. As I mentioned to a friend after listening to the album a few times, the music reminds me of the original fairy tales of old; hauntingly beautiful, but meant to scare the hell out of you. It has really been interesting delving deeper into their music. Being a woman, I would recommend this album to men who want to get their girlfriends into the death/melodic metal genre. There are elements for the death metal fans and lots of elements of a softer nature to interest those of us slightly wary of the death growls. And as Finnish musicians always do, the music feels fresh, unique and completely Finnish. I bought the CD/DVD version to get a further perspective on the band and their music. Though not a documentary of great length, I found the DVD interesting to see the process of making the album. And from this album I have decided to back track into their older catalogs and buy a few more albums. I read that these guys have been together since 1990, 24 years! They are definitely doing something right and this album deserves to be heard!
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on 28 April 2013
Album number 11 for Amorphis.I guess the term progressive death metal is defined by Amorphis.Tomi their singer growls like a lion one minute and sings like an angel the next,and he can do the mid way bits too,he seems one of the most accomplished in his field.The band,as ever,is serving up amazing melodic yet complex music full of melancholy and grandeur.They may not 'death out' like the early days (the bonus track is the fastest on the album) but you can tell they have the latent power behind them and just choose to forge new shapes with it,and they are still heavy.What's changed this time is the production and Peter Tagtren (of Hypocrisy and producer of Immortal amongst others) gives a fresher more brittle and crunchy sound which works very well,and the album is very easy to listen to as a whole somehow,more so than last the album for me.Lyrics again are written by artist/poet Pekka,as with the last three albums I think,and he makes an very interesting appearance on the dvd film.Maybe we should all tape antlers to our heads and run around the woods at least once in our life?
The track Hopeless Days stays in my head,catchy,heavy and beautifully sad,makes me quite fancy ordering the hopeless brown/bourbon sauce they were selling on their webpage!
I still love them since I first heard them in 1996 and in fact maybe I love them more now.
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on 31 July 2014
Amorphis is my favorite band, and Tomi Joutsen is my favorite singer. Their songs and music always made some beautiful pictures in my mind. I love all the music and all the lyrics. In my opinion, Amorphis is the best one. All the songs like poems, beautiful, emotional, and artistic. In fact, I just knew Amorphis last year, but after I listened the songs, I found that it was the band that I liked. Now I have bought all the albums from 2006 to 2013, they are really nice. I am looking forward to the next album. And I hope that I can see the show in CHINA, and buy the albums in CHINA too. In my country, I can not buy the albums anywhere, so I specifically bought the albums from abroad.
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on 26 July 2013
Great band from finland and I do enjoy there music this was well worth the money and I recommend this if you love Amorphis.
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on 7 January 2015
this is still a good album, an album i revisit but i cant get past the point that this is a good album and this band have released some bona fide masterpieces so this can only be viewed as a forgiveable blooper of sorts. There are some great songs here but it doesnt haunt and linger in my head like some of their previous releases, a shame but as i said i can forgive this.
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on 28 May 2013
Another great Amorphis album. Long time fans, as well as new ones, will enjoy some great metal music in the classic Amorphis style. The folk touch maybe not so obvious on this album but you can still feel it lingering somewhere in every song.
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on 9 July 2013
Took a punt on this. Pleasantly surprised at the quality of he songwriting and musicianship. Would recommend ot to anyone who is thinking of trying this type of music out as a starting point.
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on 23 February 2017
If you liked Eclipse and Silent Waters, you'll most likely this too.
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