Amorphis - The Beginning of Times

Nuclear Blast
Produced by Marco Hietala & Amorphis

Given the general high quality of their recent releases, and reverence their fan base places on some of these albums, one might be hesitant to proclaim any opinion on Finnish metal giants Amorphis and their latest outing, The Beginning of Times. With their outstandingly unique sound, unparalleled grasp of melody, immense plethora of influences and a deeply progressive take on metal, Amorphis have quite rightly become revered for what they do. With such reverence comes the ultimate expectation that eventually the band won't meet the standards set by their previous work – an almost self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to the listener never embracing the new material as they did their most cherished record.

Such a fate should not be condemned to The Beginning of Times, though. As already stated, one might be hesitant to say anything too strong given the band's already good reputation, but Amorphis's latest might just surpass their already high quality standard. Everything that has made recent albums so beloved by their fans still remains, and yet there seems that extra touch, that extra magic that moves the album from being yet another solid effort from the band, to something even better.

As can be expected, Tomi Joutsen's voice continues to be a smooth, deep and soulful as it has been since he joined Amorphis on Eclipse over five years ago. The singer's voice has since become synonymous with the band's music, a defining element that strongly identifies their sound. As on previous albums, he still alternates between his iconic singing and his throaty death-growl, both styles fitting perfectly with the bands music.

But what about that music? Compared to Skyforger, The Beginning of Times has perhaps a softer and more optimistic sound to it. The band's folk influences – more leaning towards Jethro Tull than they do any band from the folk metal scene – are notably stronger than last time, perhaps emphasising a more unusual sound this time around. The Beginning of Times might be softer in sound, but not to the detriment of their music. They might be softer, but they still retain intensity.

More importantly, there isn't a bad track here, not even an average one. Every track encapsulates an original, brilliant melody, making for an album unlikely to tire. It might very well be the case that the album isn't an instant winner for some fans, but with the strength of composition and song-writing on offer, The Beginning of Times should prove to be a record that will inevitably grow on the listener – whether they immediately take to it or not.

When a band has such a long, wealthy back catalogue as Amorphis does, it becomes hard to expect them to constantly meet the high expectations that have been set out by their prior releases. Yet somehow, Amorphis have managed to do just that. The Beginning of Times is a truly magnificent album, more than proving that the band are a rare and unique talent. Beautiful, enchanting, diverse and powerful – this might just be one of the albums of the year.

“ smooth, deep and soulful ”

Tracklist: Battle for Light / Mermaid / My Enemy / You I Need / Song of the Sage / Three Words / Reformation / Soothsayer / On a Stranded Shore / Escape / Crack in a Stone / Beginning of Time

Photo(s): Stefan De Batselier |

Written by James Donovan
More: 2011, Albums, Heavy Metal,

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