Amorphis - The Beginning of Times
---For n00bs: Amorphis are a metal band from Finland. They have done everything from folk metal to melodic death metal to progressive metal to... You get the point. All you need to know is that their music is usually short, sweet and to the point. It's some of the most catchy, melodic music you will ever hear.
The first Amorphis album I ever heard, 2006's Eclipse, blew me away. I mean... Wow. You know when you hear something and have a visceral reaction to it almost immediately, and you feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand, and you can't help but think, "This is special"?
Well, to me, Amorphis are special. They're one of the two best metal bands of the past 20 years (the other being Opeth) and they're probably the most melodic. They're also a very interesting group because over the course of their career, they have undergone no less than three paradigm shifts in style: first, after their 1994 melo death masterwork Tales from the Thousand Lakes; second, after their 1996 watershed epic Elegy; and third, after their 2003 disappointment Far from the Sun.
Basically, if there's one thing these guys are known for, it's change. That's why, when I first heard The Beginning of Times, I was a little disappointed. Their musical style used to change drastically every album or two; now, it has remained pretty much the same for the past four albums since the introduction of vocalist Tomi Joutsen. Eventually, I was forced to confront myself with... You know... Logic, and ask, "Why am I so disappointed they are no longer one of the most capricious bands in metal? After over 20 years in the business, why aren't they allowed to finally carve out a niche? It's not like I listen to music for the style. I do it for the music!"
And so, almost as if I merely snapped my fingers and wished it were true, I started to enjoy the thing. It's very similar to the previous three albums, but it's got some subtle changes; most notably, lots of female vocals and drummer Jan Rechberger sounds like he's on steroids. Everything else is grafted from the Eclipse blueprint, with short, simple songs that are catchier than most pop singles and as beautiful as Brooklyn Decker.
The only real problem I have with it is that it's a little too long. With a band like Amorphis, because they are always in fifth gear and everything is EPIC HEAVY EPIC HEAVY, I can only take so much. 12 songs and a bonus is pushing it - if they dropped "Reformation" and "Soothsayer" the album would be much tighter.* Of course the length wouldn't be a problem if every song was a killer, but so far, the only killers I hear are "Battle for Light" and "Mermaid", which are two of the best songs the band have ever done, especially the latter.
The rest of the album is good, but not Eclipse, Elegy, Silent Waters or Tuonela good, and honestly, I'm just fine with that. Amorphis have done so many incredible things over the course of their career that from here on out, everything is just gravy anyway.7
Buy the album on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Times-Amorphis/dp/B004SKI6ZE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308441462&sr=8-1
* How tight would it be? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pANr71-3Z_k