• Acoustic, folk and jazz tones enrich melodic metal - A review of Amorphis' ''An Evening with Friends at Huvila''

    Amorphis - An Evening with Friends at Huvila (2017)

    My favorite band is back with a live album recorded in Helsinki last summer that features nine rearranged versions of songs originally recorded over the past two decades. Amorphis invited guest musicians Pekko Käppi who plays an ancient Finnish-Karelian bowed lyre called jouhikko as well as regular collaborator Sakari Kukko on flutes and saxophone as far as I'm informed. The nine songs sound overall calmer and more natural than usual but even more diversified and progressive than the original tracks.

    The mixture of folk and jazz tones in the playful opener ''Enigma'' is one of the highlights on the diversified set list and a surprising improvement on an often overlooked track. One must also point out the new version of ''Sampo'' which manages to add even more soundscapes to the original and make one of the band's most sophisticated songs even richer. An obvious highlight is the last track ''Her Alone'' which is another tune that often passes under the radar. Skilled Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen adds her crystal clear vocals to Tomi Joutsen's soothing performance in a song that gets more and more intense and ends on a harmonious climax to finish the set in style. While all nine songs offer a few new twists and turns, there are some tracks that remain overall very similar to the original tunes. However, even these tracks like the intense ''Silver Bride'' or the psychedelic ''Alone'' blend in very well and are actually already perfect in their original forms. That's why small changes such as a short acoustic overture in the case of ''Silver Bride'' and a shorter final section as heard in ''Alone'' are appropriate because they offer minor new elements to discover without taking away from the brilliance of the original compositions. Amorphis proves that it knows its own material very well and manages to improve great songs to excellent tracks while the excellent titles remain on the same high level. 

    This album is physically available as part of the tour edition of the last studio release Under the Red Cloud but can also be purchased digitally without the studio record. On the other side, the band missed an excellent occasion to release this outstanding set with the second set played that night which consisted in a performance of the entire Under the Red Cloud record plus a short encore. This package would have been a very complete release showcasing many of Amorphis' diversified soundscapes. This would have been one of the best live records ever. Still, even this single set with more dominant acoustic, folk and jazz sounds added to Amorphis' progressive melodic metal style is a great addition to anyone who truly loves music.

    Final rating: 97%

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