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Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud


Even before the band began a new era with vocalist Tomi Joutsen back in 2006, Amorphis had put their unforgettable stamp on the world of Scandinavian metal, thanks to the magnificent game-changing release “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” and its inevitable influence on many of metal’s more underground sub-genres. Recently, Amorphis embarked on a 20th anniversary tour of that very record, though what they didn’t tell us all was that plans were being put forward to release a new album. The new album, entitled “Under the Red Cloud”, will undoubtedly reconfirm that Amorphis is among the most consistent Finnish metal bands today.

There’s a bit of special trivia surrounding the release of “Under the Red Cloud”. Amorphis have recorded with notably respectable producer Jens Bogren at his very own Fascination Street Studio in Örebro, and when listening to the production of the band’s latest album, you can compare the excellent sound to Soilwork and Kreator’s latest records-two groups who also happen to have had a recording history with Bogren. This production makes for an excellent complementary atmosphere to each of “Under the Red Cloud”‘s ten songs, and it also helps that musicianship and songwriting is just short of stellar. With the usual musical talents taking priority for the most part, Amorphis have created another solid record which, although never seems to have broken new ground, musically seems fresh. Songs like the opening title track and ‘The Four Wise Ones’ display a powerhouse of memorable guitar hooks, atmospheric chills and menacing heaviness complementing the harsher vocal style of Joutsen every time. Speaking of which, the man himself has nothing to prove vocally, but it just so helps that his voice here seems completely suitable for the numerous metal styles explored throughout “Under the Red Cloud”.

The album essentially comes in three parts-those leaning towards folk metal (‘The Skull’, ‘Tree of Ages’), death/doom metal (‘Bad Blood’, ‘Death of a King’) and with progressive tendencies (‘Dark Path’, ‘Enemy of the Gate’). Perhaps the best songs here are those that fully utilize progressive rock/metal influences, but not by much. This is because the album is simply very consistent all the way through, and though musical twists and turns threaten to throw some off course, it’s actually a generally a nice record to hear. Nice, even when Amorphis’ most extreme metal influences appear. ‘Death of a King’, for example, is probably the heaviest song on the album. Yet because of the excellent production at the forefront, the musicianship is perfectly suited to that of a beautiful atmosphere, giving the listener that distinctive chill in the veins before warming them to the more symphonic and morose side of the band’s musical output. The same experience can be felt with outstanding album highlight ‘Enemy at the Gates’ and its mesmerizing counterpart ‘Tree of Ages’. In fact, Amorphis’ latest effort only really exceeds expectations towards the end, but not so much that the first half is stale in any way. It’s just that with those three final tunes, those who veer towards the more complex side of metal will undoubtedly fall in love.

“Under the Red Cloud” is a very consistent record, but it does fail to reach ethereal sounds sometimes. The simplistic ‘Sacrifice’ seems to be more filler material than a memorable song in its own right, and though the hooks are undeniably catchy, it seems as if the songs surrounding it are so much better in terms of musical quality. The vocal style also appears too laidback at times, as if the instrumentation almost speaks for itself-This, inevitably, affects ‘Sacrifice’ as well as other similarly monotonous track ‘Bad Blood’. Nonetheless, “Under the Red Cloud” still manages to be up there with Amorphis’ best post-2006 efforts, even if at times you get the sense that the band are almost running out of ideas. It is an album which will be in high regard by the band’s most ardent followers, and appreciated more by those who haven’t heard Amorphis before.

3.9/5

  1. Under the Red Cloud
  2. The Four Wise Ones
  3. Bad Blood
  4. The Skull
  5. Death of a King
  6. Sacrifice
  7. Dark Path
  8. Enemy at the Gate
  9. Tree of Ages
  10. White Night

Bandpage: http://amorphis.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amorphis?fref=ts

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