Amorphis - 2009 Skyforger

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ARTIST: Amorphis
ALBUM: Skyforger
LABEL: Nuclear Blast
SERIAL: NB 2304-4
YEAR: 2009

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Tomi Joutsen - vocals * Esa Holopainen - lead guitars * Tomi Koivusaari - rhythm guitars * Niclas Etelavuori - bass * Santeri Kallio - keyboards * Jan Rechberger - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Sampo * 02 Silver Bride * 03 From The Heaven Of My Heart * 04 Sky Is Mine * 05 Majestic Beast * 06 My Sun * 07 Highest Star * 08 Skyforger * 09 O Course Of Fate * 10 From Earth I Rose

RATING: image

Background

One of the originators of both melodic death metal and folk metal in Finland, Amorphis have since 2006 already managed to publish five albums with their, now experienced, new frontman.

And with a change of style they've expanded their reach to fans of melodic metal and gained more popularity then ever before due to the fantastic writing present on these five albums. My favourite so far is the release in the middle of this winning streak, 'Skyforger'.

As any Amorphis album post-2006, it is a concept album based on a single tale from the Finnish national epic, 'Kalevala', focusing on the story of Ilmarinen, the Eternal Hammerer, capable of forging everything.

The Songs

'Sampo' starts off with the most spell-blinding piano intro I've ever heard. The rest of the song is an equally orgasmic melody-fest, with dazzling vocals by Joutsen, who is definitely one of the best Finnish discoveries of the past ten years.

This track, as well as some others on the album - contains a very short verse sung using death metal vocals, but the limited use is strictly for contrast and it is mostly praised by fans of melodic metal who don't care about harsh metal vocals at all.

The next three songs would be plastered all over rock radio if there were any justice in this world (although, Amorphis does receive heavy radio play in Finland).

The desperate pleas for love in 'Silver Bride', the calmness of 'From The Heaven Of My Heart', the pulsing elation of 'Sky Is Mine' are both interesting and accessible.

Amorphis take a break from crafting hits with 'Majestic Beast', a song which starts off as a tune from their folk death metal era but quickly turns into something super melodic, and the slow, wistful 'My Sun'.

'Highest Star' is a folk-oriented power ballad with a hard hitting chorus, and the title track carries strong prog leanings and conjures the image of Ilmarinen forging the entire heavenly abode with frightening vividness.

The album is closed with the one-two punch of 'Course Of Fate', another tune full of pain of yearning with strong anti-war sentiments (or at least that's how it could be read outside the context of the story) and 'From Earth I Rose', another tune with twisting, Eastern melodies and death metal vocals used sparsely that harks back to early 90's Amorphis, so it can be seen almost as a companion piece to 'Majestic Beast', that ties the two halves of the album together.

In Summary

This is a band doing well on all fronts - imaginative, if limited, use of non-metal instruments, varied vocals, phenomenal songwriting, and two guitarists who write monster melodies and riffs.

Pair that with a unique concept and charming personalities, and you've got yourself a true eclectic rock band for the 21st century. Now, if they could only start playing arenas.


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