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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Amorphis: Queen Of Time


1) The Bee; 2) Message In The Amber; 3) Daughter Of Hate; 4) The Golden Elk; 5) Wrong Direction; 6) Heart Of The Giant; 7) We Accursed; 8) Grain Of Sand; 9) Amongst Stars; 10) Pyres On The Coast; 11*) As Mountains Crumble; 12*) Brother And Sister; 13*) Honeyflow.

General verdict: Is «stagnating in pomp» a better way to go than «stagnating in humility»?

We interrupt our regular schedule of events to bring you this brief update: as of May 2018, the band Amorphis is still very much alive — and not only that, but with their old bass player, Olli-Pekka Laine, returning in the place of Niclas Etelävuori, this is the first time in more than twenty years that the original lineup has reconvened in its entirety (with the continuing addition of Tomi Joutsen on vocals). In all honesty, though, I cannot think of any serious theoretical conclusions to be drawn from that fact — except that old-time fans will probably be happy for the live shows. Because other than that, Queen Of Time is just another Amorphis album.

Re-reading my brief account of Under The Cloud, I am (not) surprised to see that all the brief notes made on it apply equally well to Queen Of Time. Again, it is produced by Jens Bogren. Again, it has a significant proportion of growling vocals, mixed in with clean singing, and again, there is a female guest on one track — this time, they involve no less than Anneke van Giers­bergen (of The Gathering), but in the context of the album, she is really no better or worse than Aleah Stanbridge. Again, there is a straightforward hybrid between melodic death metal and pipe-led Celtic dance tracks (ʽMessage In The Amberʼ), and more such motives crop up in the intros and intermissions of other songs as well (ʽWe Accursedʼ). However, in contrast with the previous album, there are no piano-dominated tunes at all, and not a single title coincides with the name of a Taylor Swift pop hit — can you believe this?

It is quite telling that even the most positive accounts of the record that I have consulted have little, if anything, to say about the individual aspects of any of the songs — at best, it is all written in a «yes, it is Amorphis, you know what to expect, if you like that style, you will like the album» style. At the very best, it is, «oh wow, look, there is a guest saxophone player on ʽDaughter Of Hateʼ!» (spoiler: he is audible for about fifteen seconds out of six minutes). But I am in an okay mood today, and so I will confirm that at least the production and playing are totally professional and that there are no technical grudges of any sorts that I could throw against any of the songs. It is simply that the record in no way added anything to my knowledge, understanding, and enjoy­ment of Amorphis.

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