Red Cloud Rising – Esa Holopainen of Amorphis (Part 1)

Amorphis2015e

Amorphis, photo credit by Ville Juurikkala

It has been twenty five years since guitarist Esa Holopainen and drummer Jan Rechberger (a)morphed their thrash metal band, Violent Solution with death metal act Abhorrence (featuring guitarist Tomi Koivusaari) to begin their new band Amorphis. In that twenty five years (save for a seven year spell around the turn of the millennium when Rechberger was absent) the trio have been the heartbeat of one of Finland’s most influential and admired acts.

For 2005’s Eclipse, the bands seventh album but first of a budding and fruitful relationship with Nuclear Blast, the band integrated vocalist Tomi Joutsen to produce an album that defined their sound from that point forth before 2013’s Circle saw the band experiment with a darker, more metallic Peter Tagtren produced album that reintroduced a heavier side to the band following the poppier, more melodic (but thoroughly brilliant) The Beginning Of Times.

Step forward Under The Red Cloud, the bands twelfth full length, and an undeniable return to form… and then some… with rising producer Jens Bogren (Soilwork, Moonspell) helping the band to find the ultimate, classic third era Amorphis sound. Taking a heavier turn, it is packed with powerful riffs and sweeping, epic melodies. “Yeah, …Red Cloud definitely follows where we were going with Circle, but production wise it’s way more dynamic” begins founding member Holopainen, expounding on the importance of working with a producer who is not only good at his craft, but also knows exactly what elements to draw out of a band.

“It’s the first album we’ve done with Jens as a producer and he wanted to take all the elements he likes about Amorphis and translate them into this album, and I’m so happy with the results. It’s got more growling vocals than any other album with Tomi, but not too much – it’s a good balance with the clean vocals.

“I think it’s the best one we have done with Tomi on vocals. I have a really, really positive feeling about this album.”

Amorphis2015d Photos by Ville Juurikkala

Amorphis, photo credit Ville Juurikkala

For a band with several distinct epochs, there has been a consistency of sound and style since Joutsen’s integration; a stronger, more uptempo metal presence than was evident in the Pasi Koskinen era. The appointment of Joutsen, and the carving out of their newer style, is seen as reinvigorating, and perhaps even saving Amorphis; a band whose critical star had shined so brightly on the legendary pairing of Tales From The Thousand Lakes (1994) and Elegy (1996), but who had strayed from the elements (uptempo, folk-infused melodic death metal) that many associated with them.

“He’s made a huge impact for us”, agrees Esa. “It was very, very motivating for the whole band when Tomi joined Amorphis. All that reflects in the music as well, and it’s been great fun writing music with him; a really talented guy and when you’re writing it gives us some extra things to the music as you know what he can do.” A multi-talented vocalist, Joutsen restored a mix of growled vocals, along with his hugely impressive, strong and distinctive cleans, to the Amorphis sound. “It was an easy switch when he joined, and he fit from the beginning. It’s a different era – you can easily compare the two, it’s like totally another band”, the mild mannered guitarist continues.

“The funny thing about Tomi is that he always surprises and feels like he’s gone one louder on this album with the vocals! He uses almost like a black metal vocal sometimes on this one, and he’s developed the contrasts with his growling stuff; it’s really strong.”

Had, by the time the band were releasing Far From The Sun (the bands last for Relapse) and Koskinen’s own motivation had waned, Amorphis strayed too far into progressive and rockier territories?

“In the past, after Elegy we did a couple of albums which were moving quite far away from the metal sound. But at that time, those albums were very important to do and from those albums we still have a lot of those elements in our sound with the more open guitars and more ambient sort of sound that we like to flavour our music with.

“With Jens coming in, he said he wanted to take everything that’s good about all of Amorphis, and I guess we are more influenced by the older sounds of the band again now than we were.”

 11392901_10155580751510276_6936271461885986015_n

Holopainen’s enthusiasm for …Red Cloud is apparent, and he is clearly feeling fired up by this albums’ amalgam of past and present. “This album doesn’t have any fillers, all of the songs on the album earned their place. It’s a very, very natural progression from Circle, where we started to allow the extreme influences back into the album, and I think this album takes that on, but stronger. Also we felt that nobody would be surprised if we went in a heavier direction after doing the Tales From The Thousand Lakes (20th anniversary) tour.”

Under The Red Cloud has a feeling of being a culmination of everything Amorphis has been before. While it was the previous album that was titled Circle, it is this one feels like the “circle” being closed, because it pulls together everything that is and has been Amorphis. In the accompanying press release Esa had stated that he sees Red Cloud in the top three Amorphis albums… and it’s easy to see that this is an album that can stand up to an impressive legacy.

“I surely hope so. It was a great feeling to get the final product in my hand and listen to the album through and I have a really good feeling about these songs.

“I do love Eclipse a lot because I have good memories of starting to work with Tomi, and it’s a strong album, and Elegy, for me, is my favourite album of the earlier Amorphis times, but when you do a good job you know it, and this is the best album we’ve done with Tomi.”

 

Under The Red Cloud is out on September 4th via Nuclear Blast. Order here. 

STEVE TOVEY

Soilwork – The Ride Majestic

Soilwork-The-Ride-Majestic-800x800

Full disclosure: I’m a huge lover of the Melodic Death Metal genre, and I regard Soilwork as one of the scene’s finest exponents. Despite an ever-changing line-up (Bjorn “Speed” Strid is the only original member left) over a career spanning 20 years, every album has carefully developed and built on the strengths of its predecessors whilst remaining utterly true to the essential elements that characterise Soilwork’s body of work. Consistency is the hallmark of this band.

Astonishingly, they have managed this without ever sounding stale or falling into the common trap of self-plagiarism, and their 10th studio album, The Ride Majestic (Nuclear Blast), continues the slow and subtle evolution of the Soilwork sound that has been defining the progression of this band since The Chainheart Machine (Listenable).

Produced by Jens Bogren, who also helmed their last LP The Living Infinite (Nuclear Blast), it sounds fuller, richer and shinier than all that have gone before. The excellent first track, ‘The Ride Majestic’, is a familiar opener, leading in with a gentle intro before delivering an excellent melodic soup of thrash growls, staccato riffs, sweeping scales, massive chords, expansive clean chorus lines and a noodly guitar solo.

Signature Soilwork songs leave the listener feeling like they’ve just run a Tough Mudder in record time: ‘Alight in the Aftermath’ is absolutely one of those songs – classic. But wait what’s this? The passage at the end is a monstrous shout-fest reminiscent of the sorely-missed Strapping Young Lad. I can’t wait to hear this played live.

‘Death in General’ gives us an almost Clapton-like intro lick that serves as the main hook. Another song of the classic Soilwork cannon, it would not sound out of place on Natural Born Chaos (Nuclear Blast) while ‘Enemies in Fidelity’, features the apt lyric “You can count on my distinctive presence” – Speed ain’t lyin’ brother – sounds like a bonus track from Stabbing the Drama (Nuclear Blast).

The bemusingly-titled ‘Petrichor by Sulphur’ starts to distinguish the sound of the new album in earnest, showcasing new influences that are pushing the band into fresh sonic territory. There’s new guitar tones, new chord progressions and uncharacteristic vocal hooks. In particular, the mixing of the keyboards is different here – it’s been tucked behind the guitars in such a way as to add drive and depth to an already rich sound. Delicious.

I’d swear that Devin Townsend contributes guest vocals to ‘The Phantom’ in the Lad-As-Fuck chorus, but apparently it’s a fella called Pascal Poulsen, apparently from one of the bands called Odium (I’ve found 3 so far – the Canadian guys are awesome).

Along with the racing tunes, Soilwork have another trademark of having one or two joyful bridges or middle eights that just make you glad to be alive. ‘The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)’ is that song. It also features another endearing Soilwork trope – there’s at least one song on each album with a clumsy timing change. It’s subtle, but definitely there.

Soilwork, photo by Hannah Verbeuren

Soilwork, photo by Hannah Verbeuren

‘Whirl of Pain’ is a clean nearly-ballad that lets us know we’re on the home straight. ‘All Along Echoing Paths’ (a swinging stomper) and ‘Shining Lights’ (another race with more delightfully fresh elements) lead us to the closing track of what has been a breathless and triumphant addition to the Soilwork legacy.

Featuring Nathan James Biggs of Sonic Syndicate on guest vocals, ‘Father and Son Watching the World Go Down’ sees us out with a sublime cacophony of proggy goodness which borrows heavily from the likes of Rush and Dream Theater.

In a career of great albums, the aptly named The Ride Majestic is truly outstanding.

 

9.0/10

 

PHILIP PAGE

Soilwork Announce The Ride Majestic Out August 28th

Swedish melodic death metallers Soilwork will be releasing their tenth studio album The Ride Majestic on August 28, 2015 via Nuclear Blast Records. The album was recorded by David Castillo at Studio Gröndal, and was produced and mixed by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street. The cover art was illustrated by Róbert Borbás (Grinddesign).

Watch a a live video of their hit song “Let This River Flow” featuring Nightwish/Revamp singer Floor Jansen, which comes off Soilwork’s most recent DVD/Blu Ray output, Live In The Heart Of Helsinki below.

Strid states,

“I was really excited to work with Floor Jansen, especially since we haven’t had any female guest artists featured on anything Soilwork-related before. I first got to know Floor via email some years ago, when she asked me to do some guest vocals for her other amazing band Revamp. I was absolutely thrilled, since I really respect her as a singer – she can do it all: amazing clean vocals, powerful high and low screams and can shape her voice into just about anything. I thought I’d “return the favor” and ask her to do ‘Let This River Flow’ with me for our live DVD in Helsinki and boy did it turn out amazing! It was really cool to meet her in person as well, her presence is majestic and she has a great sense of humor. I think our voices match perfectly in this almost anthemic song, which showcases a lot of different types of vocals.”

The band has previously announced upcoming tour dates which can be found here.

Soilwork on Facebook
Soilwork on Twitter
Soilwork on YouTube

Video + Audio: Earthside – Behind The Scenes + The Closest I’ve Come

earthside a dream in static

New Haven progressive metallers Earthside is streaming a behind-the-scenes studio footage footage from the recording process of its upcoming debut album, A Dream in Static below. The inherently collaborative cross-continental project, due to release later this year, was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden under the watch of renowned producer and mix engineer, David Castillo (Opeth, Katatonia, Bloodbath), and additional mix and mastering engineer, Jens Bogren (Opeth, Soilwork, The Ocean, Devin Townsend).

Stream “The Closest I’ve Come” below.

Earthside is…

Jamie van Dyck – Guitar
Frank Sacramone – Keyboards
Ben Shanbrom – Drums
Ryan Griffin – Bass

Earthside on Facebook

Audio + Music Video: Leprous – Rewind + The Price

 

leprous 2

Norwegian prog metallers Leprous is streaming “Rewind” and the David Solbjørg and Kjetil Kolbjørnsrud of Twitchy Films directed music video for “The Price,” off of their new album The Congregation, out May 25th, 2015 in Europe and June 2nd, 2015 in North America via InsideOutMusic.

leprous the price

The band recorded the drums, guitars and bass for the album in Sweden’s Fascination Street / Ghostward Studios with David Castillo (Katatonia, Opeth) and the vocals together with Heidi Solberg Tveitan & Vegard Tveitan at Mnemosyne Studios in Norway. Just like the preceding albums Bilateral and Coal, The Congregation was mixed by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios (Opeth, Symphony X, Kreator). The album’s artwork was created by Nihil.

leprous the congregation

Leprous The Congregation
01: The Price
02: Third Law
03: Rewind
04: The Flood
05: Triumphant
06: Within My Fence
07: Red
08: Slave
09: Moon
10: Down
11: Lower

LEPROUS line-up 2015:
Einar Solberg – Lead Vocal, Keys
Tor Oddmund Suhrke – Guitars
Øystein Landsverk – Guitars
Baard Kolstad – Drums

Leprous on Mobile
Leprous on Facebook
Leprous on YouTube
InsideOutMusic on YouTube
InsideOutMusic on Facebook
InsideOutMusic on Twitter

Borknagar Working On New Album, Original Vocalist On Two Songs

borknagar

Norwegian post black metallers Borknagar have began recording a new studio album to follow up 2012’s Urd!, and original vocalist Kristoffer Rygg (aka Garm/Fiery G Maelstrom/Trixter G) has recorded vocals for two songs. Jens Bogren is set to mix at Fascination Street Studio (Opeth, Kreator, Katatonia), and is expected out in late 2015 via Century Media Records.

Borknagar’s Øystein G. Brun (guitars) comments:

“These days, 20 years ago, Kristoffer and I hooked up for the very first time in Bergen to record vocals for the BORKNAGAR debut album. Glorious days, indeed. Last night I was barely asleep as I got the first vocal samples from Kristoffer late yesterday evening – and have been listening to the songs repeatedly since then. Being a former bandmate and a huge fan of his work ever since we parted ways back in the days, I certainly did expect a lot, but what he sent over this time around surpass every expectations. Really! Still trying to get my jaw back in position and the goosebumps seem to have turned chronic on me.

Kristoffer performs the lead vocals for one full song called ‘Winter Thrice’ and does additional vocals for another opus called ‘Terminus’.

Being a profoundly nostalgic person, this makes me reflect about how damn lucky I am to have been able to work with some of the finest vocalists in the world, throughout the years. Musically the upcoming album will be a celebration of just that. Along with the vocals of Vintersorg, ICS Vortex and Lazare, it should be needless to argue that this will be a very special album! Massively so! More info will follow soon!”

Borknagar on Facebook
Borknagar on Twitter

Soilwork Drummer Streams Studio Drum Session Video For Upcoming Album

dirk verbeuren 2

Soilwork drummer Dirk Verbeuren has posted a brand new video tracking drums for the upcoming album, produced by Jens Bogren. Check it out below.

He is currently making his drum skills available for session work throughout the rest of 2015. His credits include Soilwork, Devin Townsend, Satyricon, Jeff Loomis, Fredrik Thordendal, Aborted, Scarve, Sybreed, and more.

Dirk Verbeuren is a renowned studio drummer with a remarkable ear for music and 20 years of experience. He owns and operates Die Crawling Studio, a state-of-the-art facility allowing him to track drums in a fully professional and highly efficient manner using the latest Toontrack Music products. Endorsed by brands such as Tama, Meinl and Evans, Verbeuren is also fully equipped to record at the studio of your choice.

Interested bands or artists may contact Verbeuren directly at DieCrawling@gmail.com.

Session Work
Dirk Verbeuren Drum Lessons

Sorcerer Streaming “The Gates Of Hell”

sorcerer in the shadow of the inverted cross

Swedish epic doom metallers Sorcerer is streaming “The Gates Of Hell,” off their new album In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross, out March 24, 2015 via Metal Blade Records here.

Sorcerer was formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1988 but disbanded after two demos in 1992. Both demos are considered true Doom Metal classics and have been released on CD in 1995. In 2010 the band came back together to play the Hammer of Doom Festival in Germany and a year later the Up The Hammers Festival in Athens, Greece. Both shows were received extremely well and the thoughts of putting together a new album started to take form. In the end it took over two years to write, arrange and record it but the result is nothing but pure, heavy epic doom metal. The process of putting all bits and pieces together and making it ready for mix and mastering was the work of drummer Robert Iversen, also a very fine recording engineer, who was acting as the spider in the recording web. The album was mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth, Devin Townsend).

Track Listing:
1. The Dark Tower of the Sorcerer
2. Sumerian Script
3. Lake of the Lost Souls
4. Excorcise the Demon
5. In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross
6. Prayers for a King
7. The Gates of Hell
8. Pagans Dance

SORCERER is:
Anders Engberg – vocals
Kristian Niemann – guitars
Peter Hallgren – guitars
Johnny Hagel – bass
Robert Iversen – drums

Sorcerer on Facebook

Amorphis Working On New Album

Amorphis. Photo Credit: Ville Juurikkala

Amorphis. Photo Credit: Ville Juurikkala

Finnish dark metallers Amorphis have been demoing new songs for their upcoming twelfth studio album, due out in September. The band will begin preproduction this March in Helsinki with producer Jens Bogren, and recording at Bogren’s Fascination Street Studio in Sweden. Lyrics are written by Amorphis’ spiritual mentor, Pekka Kainulainen.

Amorphis Pre Production For The New Album.

Amorphis Pre Production For The New Album.

“Like Kalevala, they are descriptions of natural phenomena, seasons and the human mind,” says Kainulainen. “Reoccuring situations where hope and uncertainty alternate. Attempting to gain advice from higher powers. The poems do not form a complete story per se, but they are drawn together by a certain theme. We live under a red cloud and once again, time weighs us.”

They are schedule to follow the album’s release with a world tour, which includes a European tour with Nightwish.

Leprous Releasing The Congregation In June

Leprous 1

Norwegian progsters Leprous have completed work on their forthcoming studio album titled The Congregation, which will be released on May 25, 2015 in Europe and June 2, 2015 in North America via InsideOutMusic.

Leprous have recorded the drums, guitars and bass for their new album in Sweden’s Fascination Street / Ghostward Studios with David Castillo (Katatonia, Opeth) and the vocals together with Heidi Solberg Tveitan & Vegard Tveitan at Mnemosyne Studios in Norway. Just like the preceding albums Bilateral and Coal, The Congregation was mixed by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios (Opeth, Symphony X, Kreator).

They have announced their upcoming European touring schedule, which the dates are posted below.

leprous tour

LEPROUS European Tour 2015:
Sep 25: Garage – Bergen (Norway)
Oct 02: Forbraendingen – Copenhagen (Denmark)
Oct 03: Euroblast Festival – Cologne (Germany)
Oct 04: Progpower Europe – Baarlo (The Netherlands)
Oct 05: Le Divan Du Monde – Paris (France)
Oct 06: Le Ferrailleur – Nantes (France)
Oct 08: RCA club – Lisbon (Portugal)
Oct 09: Caracol – Madrid (Spain)
Oct 10: Garaje – Murcia (Spain)
Oct 11: Apolo 2 – Barcelona, (Spain)
Oct 12: Ninkasi Kao – Lyon (France)
Oct 13: Garage – London, (UK)
Oct 14: Ruby Lounge – Manchester (UK)
Oct 15: The Fleece – Bristol (UK)
Oct 16: Jan Hertog – Maasmechelen (Belgium)
Oct 17: Substage – Karlsruhe (Germany)
Oct 19: Legend Club – Milano (Italy)
Oct 24: Majestic Club – Bratislava (Slovakia)
Oct 25: Nova Chmelnice – Prague (Czech Republic)
Oct 26: Progresja – Warszaw (Poland)
Oct 27: Rockcafe – Riga (Latvia)
Oct 28: Nosturi – Helsinki (Finland)
Oct 30: Bryggarsalen – Stockholm (Sweden)
Oct 31: John Dee – Oslo (Norway)

LEPROUS – Live at European Festivals 2015:
Jun 05: Fortarock Festival – Nijmegen (NT)
Jul 11: BeProgMyFriend Festival – Barcelona (ES)
Oct 03: Euroblast Festival – Cologne (DE)
Oct 04: Progpower Europe – Baarlo (NT)

LEPROUS line-up 2015:
Einar Solberg – Lead Vocal, Keys
Tor Oddmund Suhrke – Guitars
Øystein Landsverk – Guitars
Baard Kolstad – Drums

Leprous Mobile Site (mobile website)
Leprous on Facebook
Leprous on YouTube
InsideOutMusic on YouTube
InsideOutMusic on Facebook