Amorphis
Far From the Sun

Signing to a major label doesn’t necessarily result in the immediate benefits that one might expect, especially if the band in question has spent years developing their sound on the independent circuit. Most of these artists fail to make the transition from underground to mainstream success and Amorphis are certainly no exception to the rule.

After one year of its release, their latest effort Far From The Sun is finally seeing the light of day outside of the Scandinavian region, where it had previously failed to make any lasting impression on the commercial and critical world at large. Judging by the strength of the opening numbers you would be hard pressed to understand why it was overlooked. The single ‘Day Of Your Beliefs’ is probably the band’s strongest showing since the mid ‘90s, displaying a powerfully catchy folk melodic refrain that gives way to a truly massive sounding chorus that’s bound to please any fan yearning for something resembling their classic Elegy material. Similarly, ‘Planetary Misfortune’ kicks off with an immense eastern influenced guitar riff that is strong enough to leave even Ritchie Blackmore with green eyes, while boasting Pasi’s most varied performance ever, utilizing dual vocal melodies to maximize the emotional impact.

 Unfortunately, things go a little pear-shaped after this, with tracks like ‘Evil Inside’ and ‘Mourning Soil’ failing to register, giving the impression of phoned-in performances and general lack of attention to detail, qualities never associated with this band in the past. Even the title track doesn’t fully get out of third gear, with only Esa’s fluid lead work being the sole point of interest. ‘Ethereal Solitude’, with its vaguely melancholic undercurrent, picks up things temporarily before plunging to its lowest with ‘Killing Goodness’, an embarrassing amalgam of Cathedral-style riffing and the worst of ‘70s progressive rock keyboards.

The remaining tracks spend most of their time attempting to lock into some kind of meditative pastoral retro-rock vibe that drifts everywhere and nowhere. It’s not that Amorphis have necessarily released a bad album here; it’s just a thoroughly unenthused one, lacking the powerful emotional drive and memorability that characterizes their best work. Pasi’s recent departure may offer some kind of explanation for this disengaging offering, perhaps suggesting internal conflicts that might have impacted negatively on the birth of this recording.

 In any event, let’s just consider Far From The Sun an anomaly in a previously unsullied career of one of the finest European metal bands of the last decade and hope for the best next time.
NOTE: The U.S. version features five (5) bonus tracks

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Eimai Tebellis
May 26th, 2003

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