Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast)Sunday, 16th August 2015
No doubt about it, early Amorphis had some tremendous impact and made some incredible and timeless albums (notably Tales from the Thousand Lakes and Elegy), but when the dust settled after the shake-ups between Far from the Sun and Eclipse, something happened that still seems to be nothing short of magical. Amorphis has become one of the most consistent and high-caliber of the metal genre. Each album they release somehow outdoes its predecessor, and Under the Red Cloud continues this most impressive streak.
Melodic death? Progressive? Folk? Such tags aren’t really necessary at this point in Amorphis’ career. It’s just ‘new Amorphis,’ which should spark the interest of most. Continuing in the same pattern and progression that began with Eclipse, each track serves a particular purpose, and you certainly will not find two tracks that sound like duplicates. From the light and feathery opening of the title track, Amorphis welcomes you back with elegant and melancholic guitar harmonies and Tomi Joutsen’s easily identifiable clean vocals and growls. “The Four Wise Ones” turns things a bit darker, with a lead melody that feels a bit more epic in nature yet some folky flavor keeps It from becoming too menacing. The already released “Death of a King” has some guests (Martin Lopez of Soen/ex-Opeth and Chrigel Glanzmann of Eluveitie) to give the track a distinct feel due to the additional drumming influence and flute inclusion. The keys get their shining moment in “Dark Path,” delivering some of the most compelling lines and mixing with the main melody to create a rather memorable chorus. Then there’s the most upbeat (and almost folk-sounding) “Tree of Ages,” a track so infectious you’ll be bound to hear it for the remainder of your week after your first taste. “White Night” ends the album with some great female vocals alongside Tomi’s excellent croons/growls, and serves as a perfect closer to the disc. We could easily wax poetic on each track (we’ll leave a few mysteries), but it’s safe to say that you can expect plenty of fantastic moments along your journey with this album.
There’s something magical and enthralling about each of Amorphis’ NB-era releases and Under the Red Cloud is another high point in the band’s storied career. They are truly expert songwriters who can take listeners on a trip that few other metal bands can. If there’s one album to pick up this year that’s chock full of sweeping and majestic melodies, Under the Red Cloud is that album.