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The Beginning Of Times - Amorphis

 BY Ranjan Anantharaman

If you’re looking for good music, look no further, for Amorphis may possibly be that fresh new sound for you. Progressive metal suitably employed against mild to adventurous keys, coupled with one HELLUVA vocalist (Tomi Joutsen) makes this sextet one band to watch out for. Having enjoyed tremendous success with the release of their three previous albums, Amorphis built tons of expectations following up to The Beginning of Times release, teasing fans with the two singles You I Need and My Enemy, me included. But have they met those wild expectations? Read on to find out….

EclipseSilent Waters, and Skyforger. Three fantastic albums back to back and it would appear Amorphis were on a roll. Brilliant work on all three, and so expectations were built around the release of their tenth studio album, The Beginning of Times, which released on May 27 in Europe, and on June 7 in America. The album was actually classified under ‘melancholic rock’ in iTunes. But at the end of the day, you’d have to say most of those expectations were met, though it didn’t bank on pure catchy melodies like its predecessors. Definitely less catchy, but a brilliant album nonetheless.

The album is centered on Wainamoinen, the iconic demigod of Finnish Mythology, “whose tale has been masterfully retold by lyricist Pekka Kainulainen,” says the band. Vocals were done under the guidance of Marco Hietala, and the album was mixed by Mikko Karmila. The album cover was done by Travis Smith, his interpretation of the world being born from a Goldeneye Egg.

The album kicks off with Battle for Light, a throwback to the previous albums. Starting off with a delicate keyboard, the song rides on a tune that somehow twirls around in the entirety of the song, whether Joutsen be trilling fondly or screaming death. A promising start to a promising album, which proceeds onto the more delicate, subtle Mermaid, which again starts off with very promising keyboard, with a wondrous female voice playing in the background, kicking off an intro, which, I’d HAVE to say, was nothing short of enchanting. Having said that, the song suddenly shifts gear, a mellow Joutsen takes over, pushing the song into, well, seemingly unrelated waters. The chorus thankfully pushes life back into the song, with Joutsen singing passionately about his “maid” and “wife-to-be”, and is finally round off cleanly.

A burst of aggression would probably delight fans of 
The Karelian Isthmus, as Amorphis throws in a conflicted My Enemy, strewn with death vocals and stop start guitar crunches. Song of the Sage brings with it a Sky is Mine feel, open, inspiring, even when death vocals are thrown in, though it (the death vocals) kind of robs you of some of the satisfaction you get from listening to the song, as with Three Words, which however surprisingly makes up with an addictive, almost resounding finish. Reformation, to me THE track of the album, along with possibly Mermaid, simply scintillates with an amazing chorus and very good keys, playing against a mellow Tomi Joutsen vocal masterpiece. Brilliant. However, it could have done without the 20-30 second period of virtual inactivity. Soothsayer also involves death vocals and start stop guitar as My Enemy, but also features Joutsen and another female vocalist, which lifts the song beyond the almost lifeless realms it first promised. On A Stranded Shore and Escape move along similar and promising lines, the former reminding one of the Runo 2 of the Kalevala.

The album ends with Crack In A Stone and Beginning Of Time, former going with the general feel of the album, with a few Joutsen/Hietala screams thrown in, which sometimes could have been avoided, you’d think, though the general semi-aggressive feel of the song provides a fantastic prelude to the last song of the track, probably inspired by the very first Rune the Kalevala has to offer, in which Wainamoinen recollects how he was conceived and was born, a good rendition of how the birth of the ageless hero coupled with the birth of the world.

Though the album lacks the musical appeal of Skyforger, it remains a fantastic collection of songs, with strong powerful messages and moving lyrics. The album is far more musically adventurous than its predecessors, though not like Elegy and Tuonela. Keyboards come across as a surprise element, gradually moving along and taking each song forward, combined with more folk influence than before. Hietala makes Joutsen sound like a demi god, which he probably is in his own right, and the vocals, just like in the previous albums, HAS to be the best element of the album.

VERDICT : 4/5 ( three for the album and one for Tomi Joutsen)


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