At first Death Metal but now encompassing Folk, Symphonic and Prog Rock elements, Amorphis are a multifaceted Finnish Metal group with nearly thirty years on the clock (twenty eight, but who’s counting). Following on from the driven yet melodious Heavy Metal of Under the Red Cloud is their thirteenth album Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast), along with the production skills of Jens Bogren – whose previous work includes Amon Amarth, Kreator and Opeth amongst others. This record follows the same urgent, heavy yet tuneful ethos but with a much broader scope, with synths, choirs, violins, folk and prog all adding to the mix.
This is apparent from the opening notes, with the synths and choral singing of ‘The Bee’ slowly marching toward a throaty roar, a hearty chug of guitar and a soaring chorus. These seemingly disparate elements combine to one wonderfully dramatic yet changeable whole. The same goes for ‘Message in the Amber’, a forceful number helped along in equal parts by a hefty guitar chug, clean and harsh vocals and a wonderfully jaunty folk melody. Even the brief and seemingly odd inclusion of a saxophone does not detract from the huge force of nature that is ‘Daughter of Hate’. This progressive sense of drama and melody is at the heart of the record and leaves you hooked from start to finish.
‘Wrong Direction’ is the best taster of the records scale. A five-minute slice of huge symphonic bombast that is equal parts Nightwish and equal parts Avantasia, with an ambitious, cinematic music video to match. I cannot state enough the huge scale of this album, unrelenting grandeur and bombast are the order of the day. More of which is served up in ‘Amongst Stars’, a metal number laced with piano, synth, wind instruments and the vocal talents of Dutch songstress Anneke Van Giersbergen, who compliments Tomi Joutsen’s harsher growls nicely.
Whilst it may take a few listens for it to gel, Queen of Time is a captivating album which mixes Death Metal, Folk, Symphonic and Prog Rock together to excellent effect.