Amorphis
Skyforger

Once I heard that Amorphis’ ninth album once again delved into Finnish folk literature a la the legendary Elegy as well as Eclipse (Skyforger, like Eclipse is based on the Kalevala poems, this time focusing on Ilmarinen, one of the central characters), I had my hopes pretty high. Even more so when you consider that since the switch to vocalist Tomi Joutsen, the band has steadily improved and sound more like the Amorphis of old with Eclipse (2006) and Silent Waters (2007) improving of 2003s widely panned Far From the Sun.

Well I’m happy to report my expectations were met and even exceeded. First off, and the main sticking point with bands of this nature and stature, fans of Elegy as well as the last two albums will be pleased to hear that the mix of clean vocals and gruff growls is about the same with the growls being well placed and timed amid the Joutsen’s improved silky croon.

Musically, I’ve felt that the last two albums have been progressively the best albums Amorphis have released since Elegy, and that applies again for Skyforger as it ‘feels’ like Elegy in both mood and scope. The mix of despondent harmonies, delicate 70’s/folk synths and hefty, growl backed moments of poetic, melodic metal clicks and melds perfectly on Skyforger as tracks like opener “Sampo”, and especially the duo of  “Silver Bride”  and “From the Heaven of My Heart” as well as “Highest Star”, “Course of Fate” and the title track all epitomize the Amorphis sound that they perfected on Elegy. Soaring, epic melodies and downright catchy yet melancholic crunchy riffs and structures plied with the sense of songwriting confidence as only Amorphis can deliver. As with “Perkele (The God of Fire)” from Eclipse and “A Servant” from Silent Waters and things even get surprisingly heavy for the likes of “Majestic Beast” and personal favorite “From the Earth I Rose”. Of course the whole thing is delivered with the top notch production values and somber, folky hues you’d expect from an Amorphis album.

The US jewel case version of Skyforger comes with a bonus track, “Godlike Machine” a bit of a let down after the mournfully majestic “From the Earth I Rose”, but it has a nice keyboard section towards the end. However, one should not really complain about extra Amorphis especially when it adds a cherry to an otherwise excellent slab of Finnish cake.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 18th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: timshel

    Perhaps it’s the “songwriting confidence” you speak of, but the songs sound so streamlined and safe on this album. Everything you say is true: they’re catchy, they’re melodic, sure, but they lack the rougher edges that gave their early records real sticking power. “Skyforger” oozes the tried-and-true quality of a veteran band, but it sounds too easy and ultimately forgettable; I wish this band would shake up its formula a bit more. On a positive note, the vocals here sound really good to my ears and are a definite high point. Nice balance of cleans and growls.


  2. Commented by: Vance

    Amorphis kick ass, this album is outstanding, they are really hitting their stride on these last three albums, the new vocalist raised them to a new level.

    Excellent review.


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    yeah I think this might be their best since Elegy – was a big fan of the first half of Silent Waters but this feels more consistent and some tracks are just quintessential Amorphis tracks (Sampo, Silver Bride, title track). Appreciate more growls throughout as well (something which I think Tuonela really should’ve used more of). Wish there were a few barnburners like Towards and Against off SW but overall I have been enjoying this a lot, barely even touched the Dream Theater I bought the same day.


  4. Commented by: RectalSquid

    All I have to say, is that if you love any sort of melodic death metal or some mixture of melo-progressive metal, you will love this album.

    I bought it, and seriously I’ve listened to it at least 20 times just now, and I’m still not tired of it. My personal favorite song is Silver Bride. The intro piano/programming/guitar work, is deeply emotional in a bereaved way of sorts.

    This album will make you think, and it will surely make you feel.


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