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Amorphis: Eclipse

The grunts are back. On Eclipse, the seventh studio record from Finland's Amorphis — a band that began life in the early Nineties as a progressive death-metal outfit and slowly morphed into an atmospheric group with more creative use of vocals — makes a partial return to its roots after the departure of vocalist Pasi Koskinen. In fact, Koskinen arguably was most responsible for the band's significant transformation. About the closest Amorphis comes to that sound on Eclipse is the ballad "Under A Soil and Black Stone."

With new singer Tomi Joutsen practically swallowing the microphone, Amorphis sounds more aggressive than they have in years on songs like the opening cut "Two Moons," "Brother Moon" and "Perkele (The God of Fire)." But the band still manages to avoid claustrophobia and maintain the melodic and structural sensibilities that helped build a wider fan base with 2001's Am Universum and 2004's Far From the Sun. "Leaves of Scar," for example, teases with organic Celtic music before a barrage of riffs and grunts knocks the song into a whole other realm – one that sonically links 1994's Tales From The Thousand Lakes with Far From the Sun, if you can believe that. Joutsen's compelling blend of guttural and clean vocals result in a sound comparable to modern-day Opeth (just not quite as dark and with more breathing room). Keyboards still drive much of Amorphis' music, but some of the psychedelic guitar tones and Pink Floyd elements of the Koskinen era have given way to jagged edges that still sound polished despite exhibiting a raw layer.

After 14 years, Amorphis have yet to make two albums that sound the same. But Eclipse lives up to its title and manages to eclipse those expansive recordings of the early millennium, seeking to unite fans old and new. This is an absolutely mesmerizing album -- perhaps the first great metal record of 2006 -- that sounds better with every listen.

Track Listing:
1) Two Moons
2) House of Sleep
3) Leaves Scar
4) Born From Fire
5) Under A Soil and Black Stone
6) Perkele (The God of Fire)
7) The Smoke
8) Same Flesh
9) Brother Moon
10) Empty Opening

Added: March 19th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Amorphis Web Site
Hits: 7717
Language: english

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Amorphis: Eclipse
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-03-19 14:19:05
My Score:

It's difficult to change vocalists and retain the same following, but Amorphis have achieved it. Eclipse is the third chapter in Amorphis' career. When they first started out, guitarist Tomi Koivusaari sang and played the guitar. Then came their amazing second singer Pasi Koskinen, stepping in for their Elegy masterpiece, with both clean and death vocals. The band released a string of successful albums with Koskinen until 2004's Far from the Sun, where they not only abandoned their folky roots and psychedelic backdrop, but also took on a relatively more modern sound. The album was criticised severely by the band's fanbase and led to the departure of Pasi Koskinen who perhaps couldn't summon the necessary inspiration anymore.

Enter Sinisthra vocalist Tomi Joutsen, hence the third chapter of the band. Not only is Eclipse a perfect return to form, it also marks the release of their heaviest album since 1996's Elegy. Joutsen is an absolutely stunning vocalist, with so much power and emotion in his delivery. Most fans, myself included, thought it impossible to fill Koskinen's shoes, but the impossible has happened. Considering the songs on this album, Joutsen seems like a much better fit than Koskinen would ever have. Repeat listens reveal Amorphis harkened back to their previous albums, combining the best sides of Elegy, Tuonela, and Am Universum. The album kicks off with the powerful "Two Moons", showcasing a very strong vocal performance and plenty of proggy keyboard lines. The piece has a strange Elegy feel to it, moreso sonically than musically. With "Leaves Scar", a song that opens with a folky acoustic intro, the band plays out some great rhythmic grooves, utilising fierce death growls and harmonised back-up singing. Some of the melodies, like the one on "Born from Fire", are the band's strongest in a long time. Both catchy and intense, this song sounds like a heavier leftover from the Tuonela sessions, except with more throaty vocals. There is a nice piano interlude in the middle that repeats the said melody which is then replaced by a terrific guitar lead.

Two songs particularly stand out as catchier and more straightforward than before, especially by Amorphis' standards. "House of Sleep" is very much like a Sentenced song circa Crimson where they were at their most melodic (and relatively less mainstream compared to the two albums they followed it up with). Even Toni Joutsen sings like Ville Laihiala did here employing an utterly engaging chorus along the way, until the breaking point where Amorphis makes the piece their own with the arrival of a nice piano and synth lead respectively. Much like "House of Sleep", the closing track "Empty Opening" features a very Sentenced-like chorus, only darker and more aggressive. This wouldn't seem too out of place on Frozen, easily their darkest and most suicidal release.

Those who've been expecting a more psychedelic album a la Elegy will be very pleased with "Under A Soil and Black Stone", a song highlighted by odd sound effects, whilst those looking for a more Tales from the Thousand Lakes vibe should enjoy "The Smoke" for its haunting death growls and "Brother Moon" for its folk meets prog meets death metal approach. This is quite possibly the most progressive song on the album, along with "Same Flesh", a piece with blazing organ leads and interesting backing harmonies.

Amorphis have returned with one of their strongest albums to date. This could be their best since Elegy or their more folk-laden work Tuonela.

Amorphis: Eclipse
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-03-04 12:53:34
My Score:

Finland's Amorphis come busting out of the gate here in early 2006 with a mind-blower of an album titled Eclipse. For long-time fans of the band since their groundbreaking symphonic and folky doom/death metal masterpiece Tales From The Thousand Lakes, who perhaps were a little disenchanted with the slight commercial edge to 2004's Far From the Sun, fret not, as there are plenty of heavy sounds here that dip into the folk and progressive rock waters once again, not to mention thunderous metal and catchy sounds. New singer Tomi Joutsen seems right at home on Eclipse adding his husky, melodic vocals and death metal growls to ten well written and exciting songs. A tune like "House of Sleep" is just a great modern rock song with plenty of hooks and metal attitude, and "Leaves Scar" mixes Jethro Tull styled prog rock featuring acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, flute sounds, with ferocious death metal. The combination of soaring clean vocals and death growls works very well on this piece, and if you can imagine a cross between Mercenary, Jethro Tull, and Dark Tranquility, you would get an idea of what to expect. Other tracks like "Two Moons", "Born From Fire", and "The Smoke" are simply great heavy rock songs, with smatterings of prog rock symphonics, Viking metal growls, psychedelic guitar work, and catchy hooks. In fact, there's a heavy psych vibe throughout much of the album, as evidenced on "Under a Soil and Black Stone", complete with thick organ, wah-wah guitars, and emotional vocals, almost sounding like Spiritual Beggars. However, one of the most unique pieces is the Middle Eastern tinged death metal romp of "Perkele (The God of Fire)", which really kicks it up a notch with brutal growls, snake-charmer guitar passages, and driving rhythms. Layers of synths and choppy guitar chords permeate the moody "Same Flesh", and the band works towards a bouncy folk-metal jig on the excellent "Brother Moon", a song that is sure to become an instant favorite with its strong Celtic feel. The best though is saved for last, with the 7-minute killer "Empty Opening", a progressive metal classic that has the best hooks on the album (thanks to Joutsen's passionate vocals) plenty of effects laden guitar work, keyboards, and intricate rhythms. It's one of those songs you just don't want to end.

Eclipse is more than just a solid album, it could be the defining moment in the recording career of post Thousand Lakes/Elegy Amorphis. This one's a winner from top to bottom, and will have you hitting replay over and over again.

Amorphis: Eclipse
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-03-03 08:54:14
My Score:

Following no set trend, Amorphis continues to morph musically and has given their fans Eclipse. It's a great follow up to their last album Far From The Sun, which was received with mixed opinion by many due to its failure to follow a certain expectation the fans had. Far From The Sun was a drastic change in direction and there was no blazing Metal across the piece; instead, it was loaded with solid and Doom-laden riffs. It had a certain appeal and showed a level of growth based on their influential status as a band. Those that chose to pass on it missed out, as there were some great numbers on the record. With Eclipse, Amorphis have expanded the realms explored by this release and have given us an even wilder ride this time around. The band continues to progress into a level of psychedelic Metal, it would seem, with some trippy riffs and solid keyboard work. There is also a return to the heavier aspect as singer Tomi Joutsen sings not only in a melodic clean style, but delivers levels of darkness by mixing Black growls in as well. I think Joutsen has turned out to be a smart choice as replacement for singer Pasi Koskinen; and this could not have been easy, for not only was he in the band for nine years, but also had a strong fan following. The rest of the band remains the same with Esa Holopainen (guitar), Tomi Koivusaari (guitar), Santeri Kallio (keyboards), Niclas Etelävuori (bass), and Jan Rechberger (drums). The group plays some great music and it's diverse enough to extend the band's reach ever further.

The album totally rocks from start to finish and with songs like "House Of Sleep" and "Same Flesh" the fans that enjoyed the last album will continue to grow in number. The heavier tracks like "Leaves Sear" and "Perkele" will sate the appetites of those that longed for this side of the band to return. However, despite the heavy there is a lot more going on in these songs. Eclipse proves that bands can change style and dig deeper into the array of colors that music offers them the ability to. There is no longer a need to stick to one format and those bands that have chosen this path of continued change offer their fans the chance to come with them as new worlds are reached. Exceed your own limits and explore with Amorphis you will find that it's a trip worth taking.

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