Written by: MN on 21/04/2013 21:46:14

Liquorice, Vodka, Nokia, and Melodic death metal. These are some of the greatest exports of Finland, the curious nation nestled in the Baltic Sea. In fact, the Finns have on countless occasions proven their powers in the Scandinavian metal league (Arguably the strongest metal scene in the world) and the sparsely populated nation has spawned an array of critically acclaimed bands such as Children of Bodom and Norther. Also profoundly carved in the Finnish hall of fame, Amorphis are a band who initially played melodic death metal. Now they take their experiences playing the invigorating sounds of melodeath and meticulously combine them with folk elements. Their songs often take the form of epic storytelling of Finnish Folklore. Key to their inspiration is the 19th Century epic poem of Finland Kalevala. Set to release their 11th record, the seasoned sextet are reaching senior status after 22 years active on the metal scene, ”Circles” sees the return of their signature sound characterized by heavy guitars, woodwind folk, death growls and grand memorable choruses. As expected of a group having over 20 years of experience, the album is satisfying, well written and conceptually works on every level.

”Shades of Grey” opens the album in a grandiose manner and the track encapsulates everything good about Amorphis; catchy sing-along choruses and awesome guitar/keyboard based interludes. Tomi Joutsen still proves a versatile vocalist who combines his deep-sounding death growls with clean vocals. ”Mission” starts off sounding eerily reminiscent of The Excorcist soundtrack by Brian Eno, but the memories induced by the stupidly creepy 1970's film are quickly swept away by the verse containing riffage that one easily could mistake for being Iron Maiden. The British metallers' influence on Amorphis is as clear as ever, especially on epic tracks such as ”Enchanted By The Moon” and "Nightbird's Song” - The latter being a track opening in the most Maiden-esque manner, but eventually evolving into a fully fledged black metal scorcher. Their most folksy song is ”Narrowpath” which draws the listener into the world of fantasy, mead by the litres and flute frenzy. This is the type of party song that usually makes you drunkenly spring to your feet to do the obligatory riverdance imitation. The album is sealed off in a hopeful and inspiring manner, the song "A New Day" is a heavy metal song that brings every element in union, thus concluding the story.

This album deserves a couple of spins, and after my fourth listen, I found out that I don't have much to criticize in ”Circles” seeing as Amorphis rarely dissapoint. Yet, one could hope that they continue their exploration of the progressive sound that has characterized some of their later releases. Next time, I hope to hear songs that evolve even further than the 5-6 minutes that Amorphis songs usually last. The songs often seem to end way too fast.


Download: Shades Of Grey, Narrowpath, Nightbird's Song
For The Fans Of: Children of Bodom, Sonata Arctica, Cruachan

Release Date 19.04.13
Nuclear Blast Records

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