Amorphis : The Beginning of Times

They Say :- Founded 1990 in Helsinki, AMORPHIS have worked their way to the apex of the European metal scene and won international renown. The band’s name, derived from “amorphous” (no determinate form or shape), has been programmatic for the pioneers of Finnish metal over the course of their 19-year career. Setting a diverse, intricate and unique style to their musical approach, often being described as “ahead of their time”, the band accrued a large and loyal international fan base. From their independently released demo Disment of Soul (1991) through the current releases, Amorphis have always fused elements of traditional heavy, death and doom metal with a great variety of non-metal influences, including folk, progressive and psychedelia, and managed to create an instantly recognizable sound of their own. The band’s break-through came in 1994 with Tales From The Thousand Lakes. The album won the band a massive fan base around the world, reaching a multitude of listeners among and beyond the metal community, and remains immensely popular to this day.

We Say :- One of the things that drives me mad about being part of this thing called “heavy metal” is that you’re supposed to know every damn album by every damn artist- there’s sometimes a snotty, “What do you mean you’ve never heard of (insert name of choice)? I heard them simply aeons ago…” and so on. You get the picture. Well sorry, kids, there are only so many hours in the day so I make no apology for being in the camp of those happy to say “nope, never heard of (insert band name of choice): what of it?”

Consider Amorphis. Until two weeks ago I’d never heard them. Heard of them? Yes. Heard them? No. So I come to their new album, The Beginning of Times with no history or expectation, other than to be be hopefully entertained. Well, they say that there are none more zealous than the recently converted. This is a belter of a record.

Like their earlier material, there are apparent references to and inspiration from the Kalevala ; the 19th century work of poetry based on the oral, folkloric and mythological traditions of Finland. Not being well versed in this, it would be absurd, patronising nonsense for me to comment. What I can say is this- if the band have taken inspiration from this, then we are all the richer for it: for in The Beginning of Times they get their particular blend of melodic death metal spot on, delivering exceptional, thought provoking music.

Mermaid begins rather like an Evanescence or Without Temptation track- all piano led, gossamer light- but drops into a groove of its own that is as infectious as it is hard driven. You I Need is a massively catchy track, with piano underpinning the rock rhythms; it has a chorus as big as a very big thing (use your imagination); On a Stranded Shore is surely a single release in waiting. Three Words is just a corker of a tune that you’ll want on repeat. Crack in a Stone is simply brilliant- huge melody, stunning musicianship, phenomenal death growling. It’s everything you would have wanted- and then some. Particular credit must go to vocalist Tomi Jousten who excels here- in fact, his performance across the whole record is a highlight.

Those of you more familiar with Amorphis will be able to write and comment far more eloquently than I can about how they have progressed from their purely death metal origins to a much greater emphasis on the melody but I wouldn’t really know. However, this I do know: The Beginning of Times is a melodic death metal record par excellence.