JJ’s Bizarre Blog #15 – A Thousand Lakes, A Thousa…

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Greetings to you all! November is now upon us and autumn continues to embrace us from all sides, colouring the world in shiny crimson and orange. As the seasons change, it’s time for an additional installment of the Bizarre Blog! This time, I’ve determined to deliver you one other band-focused entry about one in every of my favorite bands of all time and what I consider is likely one of the most phenomenal acts in all of metallic. We will journey via chilly lands and mystical worlds to witness hundreds of tales, entwined into one. Coming straight from the center, I current to you, the Bards of Finland – Amorphis!

 

What I like a lot about Amorphis is how properly their identify befits them. Meaning “shapeless” in Greek, it completely described the unbelievable number of sound that this act have been bringing for over 30 years now. Through fixed and steady evolution, the mighty Finns have developed a sound not like the rest on the market, whereas nonetheless holding on to a strong core that’s definitively theirs. Their lyrics are closely primarily based on Finnish folklore and mythology, particularly the work generally known as the Kalevala, an epic poem accumulating many Finnish folks tales into one cohesive story. Through this legendary lens, Amorphis inform tales as diverse as their sound – love and conflict, life and loss of life, pleasure and sorrow. All of this and extra stay inside their songs. So come be a part of me as we dive into an unbelievable discography that’s in and of itself a narrative as wonderful as those inside the band’s lyrics.

 

Jumping proper into our historical past part, Amorphis have been based round 1990 within the melting pot of the Finnish loss of life metallic scene of the time. Lead guitarist Esa Holopainen, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Tomi Koivusaari and drummer Jan Rechberger would type the core of the band that continues to be intact to at the present time. Olli-Pekka Laine would additionally be a part of them on bass. With this lineup, the younger band sought to make a reputation for themselves amongst the rising stars of native loss of life metallic. They would launch a bunch of demos and EPs, all later collected collectively because the Privilege of Evil EP, earlier than lastly releasing their first full size studio album in 1992, the conflict anthem generally known as The Karelian Isthmus. This and the EPs earlier than it are very easy loss of life metallic and are very totally different from the sound the band would turn out to be recognized for later. Nonetheless, the riffs are disgustingly catchy and the songs are wonderful, so for those who get pleasure from Finnish loss of life metallic, this album and its little brothers are nice representations of the style in its early life.

 

 

Soon after that although, Amorphis would strike gold with their sophomore launch, one of the crucial iconic metallic albums of all time. None aside from 1994’s Tales from the Thousand Lakes. The band determined to acquire a keyboard participant and lean right into a slower, very melancholic doom metallic sound, permeated with loss of life metallic heaviness. The result’s a darkish, chilly and sorrowful document that completely encapsulates the somber fantastic thing about the landscapes of Finland, numerous lakes and swamps buried beneath ice and snow, reduce aside solely by scorching springs. Holopainen and Koivusaari would show an unbelievable guitar duo, with the crushing rhythm guitar contrasted fantastically by the emotive lead melodies, each complimented fantastically by bountiful piano and keyboard melodies. Black Winter Day ought to simply turn out to be the brand new anthem of Finland for those who ask me, as a result of it captures the essence of this land so properly. It have to be actually unhappy for loss of life/doom metallic followers, as a result of Amorphis launched among the best albums that style has ever seen after which by no means made one other document that feels like this ever once more.

 

 

Soon after, Amorphis would shapeshift once more and begin to develop the sound that will turn out to be their trademark. The subsequent document, Elegy in 1996, can be the primary one that may be thought of progressive metallic. While the loss of life and even doom metallic parts might nonetheless be felt, songs turned extra melodic and fewer darkish, keyboard going for jovial folky melodies as a substitute of somber arpeggios. New singer Pasi Koskinen can be introduced in and him and Koivusaari would share vocal duties, shifting between clear, nearly spoken phrase vocals and harsh growls. While a little bit of a center floor album, Elegy is the lacking hyperlink between the loss of life metallic Amorphis of the 90s and the catchy proggy Amorphis of at this time. Still an superior take heed to at the present time!

 

 

As time went on although, the band would favour their new progressive route increasingly. Incorporating numerous kinds collectively, songs would turn out to be extra advanced and numerous and the loss of life metallic sound would slowly be phased out, Koskinen coming to the forefront because the true lead vocalist. Gratuitous keyboards, particularly Hammond organ, would permiate the songs, clearly impressed by 60s and 70s rock icons like Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and Uriah Heep. Miscellaneous devices reminiscent of theremin, flute, tin whistle, saxophone and extra would seem in all kinds of locations, one thing the band likes to do to at the present time, giving them a spot amongst the realm of people metallic too. 1999’s Tuonela is a really centered document, mixing many kinds, with the tracks going from rocky and bombastic bangers to darkish and melancholic tunes that sound like a journey into the underworld that gave the document it’s identify. 2001’s Am Universum can be even proggier, keyboards and saxophone solos galore, favouring a cool and nearly whimsical fairy tale-esque vibe. Holopainen’s guitar solos can be fittingly diverse, sounding uplifting or sorrowful, regardless of the particular track requires. In the latter document, the band would additionally make one in every of their most vital acquisitions – keyboardist Santeri Kallio, who would turn out to be one of many major songwriters and use his classical coaching to deliver an much more diverse sound and extra air of sophistication to the music.

 

So on and so forth, the Finns continued to evolve. However, one of many downsides of being shapeless by your very identify is that generally you may neglect who you actually are and what makes you distinctive. This appeared to be the case as throughout the 2000s, Amorphis appeared to have a little bit of an id disaster. Their subsequent document in 2003, Far From the Sun, is under no circumstances a foul document, however it’s fairly distinct from all albums earlier than and after it. It leans extra in direction of rock than metallic and sounds at instances extra corresponding to one thing like Queens of the Stone Age than Amorphis themselves. It was no flop, but it surely was clear {that a} new route was wanted, the shapeless factor would want to vary once more however into one thing else.

 

 

That essential change would occur a couple of years later. Amorphis would regroup and restructure, Pasi Koskinen departing from the lineup. The defining second would include the arrival of one of many biggest vocalists of the trendy age – Tomi Joutsen. A way more versatile singer than Koskinen, his method would show to be the lacking hyperlink for Amorphis to lastly bloom like an impressive flower and unleash their true potential. Blending his lovely, melodic, low-baritone clear singing together with his beastly guttural loss of life growls, Joutsen would assist the band reintroduce loss of life metallic again into their sound, regaining the sting they misplaced, whereas additionally retaining the insane selection and free-form progressiveness of their earlier albums. This would all culminate in 2006’s Eclipse, the document that symbolized a brand new daybreak for Amorphis and actually put them into the higher map of metallic. They have been again and higher than ever!

 

 

This new discovered drive can be encapsulated within the band’s subsequent releases – Silent Waters in 2007, Skyforger in 2009 and The Beginning of Times in 2011, aka the Swan album, the Tree album and the Egg album. While every document has its personal palette of sounds and tales, they’re largely one steady evolution of the now definitive Amorphis sound, that will be cemented throughout this period. Mystical, participating, progressive, but approachable, these data are teeming with life and selection. Amorphis are one of many few metallic bands that make what I can undoubtedly describe as actually lovely music. Quite a lot of that is owed to the refined guitar duel of Holopainen and Koivusaari, however particularly to the godly keyboard work of maestro Santeri Kallio. I’ve additionally observed that a large variety of my favorite tracks are the brainchildren of Kallio himself. You would not suppose that piano would work properly as a number one instrument in metallic, but it surely suits oh so properly, making a spectacle that’s melodic and inventive with out ever compromising on heaviness and uplifting energy. With catchy choruses and a variety of influences, from loss of life metallic to progressive rock, from jazz to folks, Amorphis are a phenomenon not like some other. What different progressive metallic bands want 12-25 minutes to showcase, Amorphis can pack into pretty normal 4-6 minute songs. No different prog band is that this approachable with out compromising on the profoundness of their music.

 

 

The subsequent document, Circle in 2013, will get a little bit little bit of flak from the fanbase, largely for its barely dodgy sound high quality, however I don’t suppose that’s something to fret about. Yes, Peter Tägtgren is a legend on many fronts, however his tough wall-of-sound manufacturing fashion doesn’t mesh too properly with Amorphis’ typical sound. However, the sound is greater than serviceable, and past that, that is undoubtedly the very best songwriting the band has needed to date. From epic loss of life metallic massacres to melodic and playful anthems to folks metallic gems that will make their countrymen from Ensiferum blush, this document simply has so many sides to it and all of them are executed to perfection. Also, I’m a little bit biased since this document holds a particular place in my coronary heart – for it’s the place I found this band, that will change my life without end.

 

 

After this although, Amorphis would completely discover their stride and enter what can solely be described as their Golden Age. A special Swedish producer, Jens Bogren, proved to be the proper man for the job. All their most up-to-date albums have been these godly masterpieces that go away nothing to be desired. Brimming with selection, stuffed with pure emotion and that means and but unbelievably catchy, these document simply maintain knocking it out of the park. Under the Red Cloud in 2015, Queen of Time in 2018 and Halo in 2022 are all masterpieces in their very own proper and I can not for the lifetime of me put one earlier than the others. Amazing riffs, lovely solos, attractive piano melodies, chic folks passages courtesy of Chrigel Glanzmann from Swiss folks titans Eluveitie, majestic operatic soprano thrives from Anneke van Giersbergen there’s an never-ending cascade of various shapes the band can take, whereas at all times sounding definitively like solely they’ll. We are actually blessed to be witnessing a band like this of their prime.

 

 

During all their years, Amorphis even took a while from recording God-tier data to make some equally spectacular stay albums too. All have wonderful worth to them, however in my humble opinion, An Evening with Friends in Huvila is the very best one, partially due to the exceptional sound constancy of the recording itself, but in addition due to the distinctive preparations to a whole lot of the songs.

 

 

Guitarist Esa Holopainen even discovered a while to launch Silver Lake, a improbable proggy metallic album that includes a ton of legendary vocalists. Clearly reduce from the same material as Amorphis, however very distinctive in its personal proper.

 

 

And so, the shapeless ones proceed to evolve into new and grander types. It’s actually wonderful how a lot selection might be packed into just one discography. An imposing beast of magnificence and brutality. I’m additionally amazed how properly the band handle to stability their progressive sound with an accessible method to songwriting. It’s no shock why these titans have turn out to be one of the crucial profitable bands of the present period and are an emblem of Finnish music. I hope my weblog impressed you to examine them out and I urge you to discover their works in full. I’m certain you can be impressed. As at all times, the playlist is beneath so that you can take a look at. Kiitos!

 

spotify:playlist:6npO3KLbh8PflABT10sUmd 

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