Amorphis - Queen of Time - (9.5/10)
Published on July 31, 2018
Evolution and Revolution
One of Finland’s longest standing and most successful metal exports, Amorphis have gone through quite the evolutions and revolutions throughout their career, having come a long way since their death metal debut The Karelian Isthmus. Always known for change, some people criticized their last few albums as feeling more stagnant, but while it is true that they seem to have left their revolutionary days behind, it does not detract from them definitely having their very own sound and their exploration of the more immediate vicinity as opposed to the grand adventures they used to go out on. Queen of Light is already their 13th studio album (not counting the Magic and Mayhem compilation) and it is yet another more than worthy addition to their already illustrious back catalogue.
As already mentioned for Under the Red Cloud, technically there are no novelties to be found in Amorphis’ sound (and the naysayer will grumble that it has been years since that happened), but the sheer quality of the songs makes it easy to forget this relative “shortcoming”, since they just as successfully avoid the dreaded treading of water or the simple repetition of the same album over again. Sure, their groundbreaking era of Tales From the Thousand Lakes and Elegy was exciting and would take the listener onto an adventure, but despite staying closer to their log cabin these days they are far from just going through the motions.
In times where it can be difficult to discern between bands, Amorphis are one shining example how to sculpt a unique style without having to resort to outerworldly elements or complexity, from the first moments of “The Bee”. To describe the Finns’ sound in simple sub-genres listings is nay impossible, because they unite progressive rock with folk, death metal with sublime melodies, creating amazing dynamics within and when a band has a vocalist such as Tomi Joutsen it adds a completely new dimension, with some of the best growls in metal combined with outstanding clear vocals, there is almost no way not to have a winner at one’s hands.
“Message in the Amber” is one of the best songs Amorphis have written in years (and given the quality of the band’s back catalogue that means something), with a great, playful melody threading throughout the song, utilizing the vocal interplay beautifully to create outstanding dynamics that underlines pretty much Amorphis have stood and still stand for. And the album is chock full of these brilliant moments, be it the saxophone in “Daughter of Hate” (which also has this brilliant melody), the greatly increased heaviness on “Heart of the Giant” that is juxtaposed with a beautiful melody that starts the song and recurs throughout or the female vocals on “Amongst Stars”, even the Amorphis typical Middle Eastern scales can be found on Queen of Time, with “The Golden Elk” and “Grain of Sand” being the two samples here.
The only slightly new element is a stronger role of symphonics and some choir, which definitely adds to the songs and pushes them just that little bit extra. Despite many twists and changes, Queen of Time always remains conclusive and cohesive, showing Amorphis on a continued high, which will seriously compete for album of the year honours. A big album by a big band!