• Amorphis - Circle (2013) (10/10)

    Genre: Folk Metal / Death Metal / Melodic Metal
    Label: Nuclear Blast Records
    Playing time: 46:22
    Band homepage: Amorphis

    Tracklist:

    1. Shades Of Gray
    2. Mission
    3. The Wanderer
    4. Narrow Path
    5. Hopeless Days
    6. Nightbird’s Song
    7. Into The Abyss
    8. Enchanted By The Moon
    9. A New Day
    Amorphis - Circle

    Here comes at least the best Metal record of the year.

    Over the years, AMORPHIS has become my favourite band of all times. I simply adore the epic and yet addicting mixture of genres of the band that went from Progressive Death Metal over Progressive Folk Rock to an addicting kind of Melodic Metal. With the arrival of singer Tomi Joutsen, the band finally got some stability and has found its very own style as well. The albums fronted by him had many strong points in common but many fans and also the band itself was afraid that a new record could sound too repetitive. A change was needed and found with the addition of an edgier production by Peter Tägtgren of HYPOCRISY and PAIN fame, more developed folk elements than ever before and a return to the Death Metal roots of the band plus the surprising addition of a few very well employed Black Metal passages. Especially fans of the old days may celebrate the return to the band’s sources but any fan of any AMORPHIS era should adore this release.

    The band offers some of its most brutal and pitiless songs since the first two records. The apocalyptic opener “Shades Of Gray” mixes powerful Death Metal vocals with dark and heavy riffs and few subtle symphonic elements. The amazing opener is crowned by an energizing clean vocal chorus. Later on, “Enchanted By The Moon” hits the same vein but has a more atmospheric touch. Both songs are absolute killer tracks but this is just the beginning.

    The aforementioned Black Metal parts can be heard in the atmospheric masterpiece “Enchanted By The Moon” and especially in “Nightbird’s Song”. The latter track features unchained Black Metal vocals, grounded Death Metal growls and truly emotional clean vocal passages performed by one singer who performs any style in passionate perfection. This song is easily one of the best the band has ever created in its long career. Tomi Joutsen has always been one of my favourite singer but this release is his personal opus magnum and perfectly impressive from the beginning to the end.

    The enchanting and dreamy folk elements that might please to the power metal community show the other and softer side of the band. The amazing introduction and the appeasing melodies of “Mission” might please to those who liked the Pasi Koskinen era, the faster and even more accessible “The Wanderer” turns out to be the best second single choice,  the epic “Into The Abyss” unites elements of the jazzy “Tuonela” and the epic “Skyforger” records and the closing “A New Day” is an atmospheric, cinematic and epic album closer of the highest standard. My favourite Folk Metal tracks on this record and probably even of all times is though the heavier “Narrow Path”. The folk elements can therefore be described as some sort of guiding line of the album and are included in almost all songs. Some of them even mix both the new dominant folk elements and the black metal tones and these songs turn out to be particularly amazing.

    My favourite masterpiece on here is though the first single “Hopeless Days” that mixes brutal energy with catchy and melodic grace in perfect complicity. The verses mix gripping riffs with progressive and soft vocal lines while the chorus is a powerful anthem you won’t be able to get out of your mind anytime soon. Along with “Alone” and “Sky Is Mine”, this is by far my favourite AMORPHIS track ever.

    In the end, this album includes just killers and no fillers. It’s among or maybe even the best record I have ever listened to in my whole life. Only time will tell. I’m pretty sure though that this release will pass the test of time. That’s why it is not only the highlight of the year but at least the best metal release of this decade in my opinion. AMORPHIS truly defend their metal throne with what happens to be probably their best album ever released.

    Check this album out at all costs and be sure to get the limited box set that features three more high quality bonus tracks and other useful gimmicks.

    (Online April 15, 2013)

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