Release DetailsLABEL Nuclear Blast
RELEASED ON 3/21/2006
posted on 3/2006 By:
If you are at this site and specifically reading this review, I can assume you don’t need a history lesson about the rise and (in my opinion ) fall of Amorphis, arguably one of Finland’s most influential and successful acts. Suffice to say, I happen to think Tales From the 1000 Lakes was a landmark album for metal, and I hold it in incredibly high regard.
However, regarding Amorphis, there seems to be two distinct camps; those that loved everything up to Elegy and don’t care for the likes of Tounela, Ad Universam and their last effort Far From the Sun. Then there are those that enjoyed the post Elegy clean up and more rock, psychedelic based efforts. So here it is, in my opinion Amorphis’ most important album since Tales; And like Elegy, when Ville Tuomi joined the fray, bringing clean rock vocals to the mix, Eclipse sees an almost reversal of that move. In comes Tomi Joutsen (Sinistra), who along with a competent clean voice brings back some lush death metal growls. It’s this duality that made Elegy so good, and thus makes Eclipse somewhat of a return to the aura of that album.
And while the return (albeit moderate) to death metal vocals will be the make or break point of contention for this album, we must not forget regardless of vocals, Amorphis are still some of the smoothest song writers around. Even though I didn’t like the last three more commercial albums, I can still acknowledge the band’s considerable strengths. So Eclipse, while still seeing the band still deliver silky smooth rock tones, due in part to Joutsen’s presence, the music also seems to be glimpsing backwards at the band's Elegy days; folkish gait, austere moods and ample Hammond/synch use that takes more of a backseat role to the rediscovered guitars. Another nod to their past is the album’s basis on Finnish literature, this time the epic Kalevela story is given musical treatment.
Right out of the gate, “Two Moons” has that “we’re back!” atmosphere, though they never went away, much like Gorefest’s “For the Masses” on La Muerte it gives you shivers. When Joutsen’s deep growl kicks in about halfway through I seriously got goose bumps. In fact, the opening half of the album “Two Moons, “House of Sleep”, “Leaves Scar”, “Born of Fire” (the heaviest track Amorphis has written in years), “Under a Sail and Black Stone” , “Perkele (God of Fire)” (another real ‘heavy’, Elegy styled track) are swarthy, sultry and evocative rockers with enough of Joutsen’s sprinkled roars to make them more than appealing to fans of the older material. That being said, the album hits a bit of a wall with “The Smoke” and the tracks tend to have less of an impact despite their consistent quality; pretty much like the last three albums. “Same Flesh” and “Brother Moon”come across as more of Sentenced styled Goth rockers, while “Empty Opening” is a drawn out somber number and “Stonewoman” is a psychedelic 70s styled rock mess - it’s a bonus track so it may be a cover song or an older track, contributing to its sore thumb status. Maybe it's just that the warm swathe of Amorphis’ return wears off that far into the album and you are left with simply appreciating the music rather than the legacy.
Regardless, on the strength of the first half alone and certainly due to Joutsen’s presence, Eclipse is a glorious album that harkens to both Amorphis’ past and remains in the present effortlessly. The production is rich, the hues of the songs are tangibly rooted in Elegy’s elegant folk past and the band's more modern rock approach. Not perfect (partly due to the legacy Tales and Elegy), but certainly superb album that redefines Amorphis as one of Finland’s most important and quality musical exports.
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