Three years ago in 2015 Amorphis released solid Under The Red Cloud that was rightfully a highest point of their art that time. The band went to a long two years tour, supporting their album and traveled half of the world. And then, almost without a break, guys went back to studio to record their 13-th album Queen Of Time and outbid themselves one more time.
I’ll come with a “trump card” and quite controversial statement: yes, Queen Of Time is a top of Amorphis‘ creativity today. Also it’s a good example of how (and should) develop a band, where all members are living with their music. A band, where the words “Amorphis is our life” are 100% truth, and not a trivial answer to another bothersome journalist.
“The recordings have been a lot more intense and more exhausting this time,” reveals Esa Holopainen. “After couple of hundred concerts in support of Under The Red Cloud, we played our last show of this tour on a Saturday in September 2017 in Helsinki. We had an off day on Sunday – and started rehearsals for the new album on Monday! […] We were able to take the energy, the experience and the routine of the tour and put it directly into songwriting. That,” said Holopainen, “has given the process a good boost.”
So, Queen Of Time: ten powerful canvases, written in small strokes, each of which can be viewed for hours. Here extreme vocal alternates with clean one and Anneke Van Giersbergen’s tender voice in “Amongst Stars” are a real pearl. Here we have choirs, which are not going opposite to a main music theme, playing by contrasts, but go with the music, making it more epic, reinforcing tragedy and sorrow (that passes through the whole album). Here we have some electronic samples, like in opener “The Bee”, which totally doesn’t reflect what will happen in an album onwards. There are flutes from Eluveitie‘s Chrigel Glanzmann, lone oud (“The Golden Elk”) and saxophone. Arising out of nowhere on the background of guitar riffs in “Daughter Of Hate”, it knocks you out of the mood, and it became absolutely incomprehensible what is it, why is it there and how Amorphis did that it sounds so organically. What is more, saxophone solo, unlike the guitar one, goes to psychedelic music. And on this crazy (but in fact, verified with mathematical precision) background can be heard Tomi Joutsen’s calm voice, that tells something in Finnish.
However, Amorphis would not be themselves, if they would not make their songs catchy, even with such splendid of arrangements. Every track is memorable with something. Everyone will find something close to him that he would hardly came off. It can be a main melody (“Grain Of Sand”) or bridge (“Message In The Amber”). Or it can be some melodic chorus (“The Golden Elk”), that cause goosebumps and you don’t know what to do: to headbang or to indulge in philosophical reflections on the transience of being, sadly contemplating everything that is going on around.
In the end there must be said something like “surely this album will be in many 2018 albums top-10’s”, but this trivial sentence does not reflect even hundredth part of all Queen Of Time beauty. Therefore, if I don’t have my own words, I should use the words of others: Russian writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky ended their novel “Roadside Picnic” with a phrase “Happiness for everybody, free, and no one will go away unsatisfied!” I don’t know, if Amorphis read this book, but Queen Of Time exactly corresponds to these words.
Queen Of Time was released on May, 18 via Nuclear Blast.