Amorphis
The Queen of Time

One could argue that Amorphis’s post Tuonela, Ad Universum, Far From the Sun ‘slump’ is a comeback stretch that is one of the more consistent, quality album runs in the annals of metal. With the arrival of Tomi Jousten, from 2006s Eclipse, through 2007s Silent Waters, 2009s Skyforger, 2011s The Beginning of Times, 2013s Circle (my personal favorite of the group), and 2015s Under The Red Cloud, these prolific Fins have delivered , if not improved upon their now seminal sound.

Well, after hearing first single, “The Bee” from the band’s 13th album. The Queen of Time, I initially thought there might finally be a little bit of a let down, which would be completely excusable after such an amazing run of releases, as the song really didn’t do anything for me. However, after spinning the complete album for a while now, I can safely say The Queen of Time is yet another high quality, winning Amorphis album.

The album it seems to share more with is Circle, in that the album isn’t fully  rooted any sort of Finnish folk or mythology, and as a result is less inherently melancholic,  ‘folky’ or mystical , and more directly symphonic/orchestral, cemented with real flutes, strings, female vocals and choral/orchestral arrangements introduced to the band’s arsenal for the first time (fear not- this isn’t Dimmu Borgir levels of cheese of theatrics) . Also, when this new element is added to the return of bassist Olli-Pekka Laine, who performed on the band’s first 7 albums, the already well oiled, svelte, proggy 70s keys (“We, Accursed”), Middle Eastern sway (“The Golden Elk”, “Grain of Sand”), saxophone (“Daughter of Hate”) and atmospheres ,The Queen of Time is the band’s most commercial, rock based but soaring, triumphant and uplifting release of the band’s career.

After the aforementioned “The Bee”, second track “Message in the Amber”, delivers an initially somber ballad-ish track, before a flute laden canters and epic choral bridge signals the album’s arrival for real, and the next next 8 tracks show a band in top form, and incredible achievement after a 25 year career. ‘Wrong Direction”, the album’s second single, can only be described as ‘classic’ Amorphis, even with the mostly clean vocal delivery, but the epic climax is completely worth it.  If “Wrong Direction” is classic Amorphis, “Heart of the Giant” is the band tweaking the sound with a little more sneaky experimentation, where the orchestral arrangements are brought to the forefront of a shifty, radio ready rocker/heavy metal number delivered with Joustsen’s gruff tones.

Speaking of Joutsen, he  still has a perfect balance of silky smooth croons and well placed cavernous growls, but now when backed by the new orchestral and choral elements- it’s downright majestic as all get out. Just listen to “We, Accursed” or album standout, penultimate track  “Amongst Stars” where former The Gathering star Anna van Giersbergen duets with Joutsen to create an utterly glorious, mesmerizing chorus that stands as one of the band’s finest moments ever. How this wasn’t the lead single baffles me…

The album ends with somewhat of a let down, considering the prior track’s sheer, epic  elegance, as “Pyres on the Coast” is a somber , slower track but has a nice mid/end song movie sound track-ish orchestral bridge, that could have been developed and used more to end the album on a real high note. Still, The Queen of Time is yet another outstanding effort from an outstanding band that shows zero signs of letting up or slowing down, even with the likes of Noumena and Wolfheart nipping at their heels.  Bravo.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
May 7th, 2018

Comments

  1. Commented by: GWW

    Hard to believe this is the band that recorded Privilege of Evil! THAT was great Amorphis. This sounds like Nickleback played by Finns.


  2. Commented by: Dave

    @GWW, come’on man, let that go. That EP cam out in the early 90’s, this band hasn’t sounded like that since then.


  3. Commented by: Clauricaune

    @GWW Quit trolling, dude.


  4. Commented by: Jay

    They’ve had their missteps here and there but I think things have been pretty solid again since “Eclipse.” The “Elegy” feel came back pretty hard from then on. I actually really that one still. Great review brother, like what I’ve heard of this so far.

    They were also great live with Tomi too. They even nailed the “1,000 Lakes” era.


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