i used to LOVE amorphis.
i got into them in ’94, when tales from the thousand lakes came out. i read a glowing review of it in metal maniacs so i checked it out. it didn’t do much for me for a few weeks or maybe a month, but then i gave it some more spins and i started to grasp what the album was about. it was dark, doom-laden, old world lore, and it was fucking awesome.
so of course i went nuts collecting the rest of their shit. karelian isthmus was a respectable, more death metal affair, and privilege of evil was straight death metal. neither were as wicked as TFTTL but i still dug both a lot. then elegy came out and it blew my mind. it was really psychedelic and varied, due largely to the immensely talented keyboardist, kim rantala.
then came tuonela. tomi koivusaari was no longer doing any vocals, which bummed me out since his growls were really so unique and a part of amorphis’ signature sound. also, kim rantala was gone. some new guy was now in the band who barely touched his fucking instrument. the album was boring, except for like 3 riffs. it was less heavy, less experimental and exciting, more hard rock. fuck that.
then came another album that i don’t even remember the name of. it was more hard rock, and i hated it. then came far from the sun, and it was MORE hard rock. at this point, i don’t need to say i hated it but i’ll say it anyway BECAUSE I DID.
finally, vocalist pasi koskinen left the band and tomi joutsen joined. amorphis released eclipse…and it wasn’t bad.
it wasn’t quite a ‘return to form’ but it did revisit some of the elements that i enjoyed so much on the older albums. the lyrics were focused on traditional finnish folklore, some of the music was moderately epic (in the true sense of the word of course, not in the way that douchebags and college kids call their omelettes epic and mean “yummy”), and joutsen’s growling, while not true death, was much better than koskinen’s. i happily gave the album a 7/10 and looked forward to even more improvement with the next album.
but with silent waters, my hopes were dashed. i mean, just look at this fucking picture.
the band tried to disguise the hard rock bullshit by tossing in a little bit of double bass drums and some more growling here and there, but joutsen’s lame, super emotional clean vocals, the over-processed and many-layered harmony vocals, ac/dc drum beats, stupid decelerandos at the end of every song, boring chord progressions, and a sparkly, shiny, overly clean production all abounded: this is not epic death metal, it’s a crappy hard rock interpretation of epic death metal. anyone who believes silent waters heralded amorphis’ return to epic death metal are sadly mistaken. they are easily fooled and/or have low expectations. these people cannot truly appreciate tales from the thousand lakes or elegy on the deep emotional and cerebral levels that i do. they’re dummies.
the albums skyforger, the beginning of times, and circle all followed, and they have all sucked in all the exact same ways as silent waters. amorphis have basically made the same shitty album over and over: lousy hard rock poorly masquerading as epic, melodic death metal.
to add insult to injury, in 2010 they released an album of re-recordings of some of their old songs that absolutely destroyed the magic of the original versions. the songs all sound flat and limp. the heavy parts sound tired, as if the band no longer believes in them anymore and is simply going through the motions. it absolutely killed me to hear them play songs that have always hit me in the guts in such a way that made me loathe them.
what makes all of this even worse is that amorphis bassist niclas etelavuori and vocalist pasi koskinen made up 2/3 of the decent grind/death band, to separate the flesh from the bone. and koivusaari did some guest growling on black sun aeon‘s a song for my sorrow, which was wicked sick. clearly, some of the guys knew that making death metal was still awesome, so why did they never infuse those elements back into amorphis? why did they reserve them for fucking side projects and guest appearances? (koivusarri’s vocals appear from 2:09-2:44 on the song below)
fuck amorphis. i gave up on them years ago but i had to get this all off my chest. i’ve even been listening to silent waters while writing this in an attempt to find something i like or overlooked before, but there’s nothing. this is just fucking awful. unimaginative. predictable. uninspired. not heavy in any sense. this is just a tired band treading water.
edit: for further musings on amorphis’ dreadful downfall, see this subsequent post.