Music

Amorphis: Eclipse

With a new vocalist leading the way, Amorphis sound reborn on their seventh full-length album.


Amorphis

Eclipse

Label: Nuclear Blast
US Release Date: 2006-03-21
UK Release Date: 2006-02-21
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Replacing a lead vocalist is always the hardest thing for an established metal band to successfully pull off, but Amorphis are no strangers to the situation, as guitarist/death howler Tomi Koivusaari gave way to singer Pasi Koskinen in the mid-'90s, and when Koskinen left the band in late 2004, just as their fine album Far From the Sun was hitting stores in North America, the band was forced to go through the whole process all over again. At the time, it might have seemed like the worst possible time to bring in a replacement singer, but in retrospect, the quick hiring of new frontman Tomi Joutsen (formerly of Sinisthra) before their US tour turned out to be a blessing in disguise. By breaking in their new singer with a full touring schedule as opposed to working in rehearsal and recording studios, by the time the band was ready to record their much-anticipated follow-up, instead of sounding like five guys and a singer, they were a finely tuned unit of six, and as we hear on the new disc Eclipse, Joutsen’s presence seems to have given the rest of the band a tremendous boost of energy. Not only is the new album their most commercially accessible to date, but it’s arguably their finest effort since 1994’s much-lauded Tales From the Thousand Lakes.

In keeping with their name, Amorphis has always been one of the most difficult-to-pin-down bands out there, easily shifting musical styles from album to album, and while that evolution continues on Eclipse, the band appears to have settled into the kind of groove that suits them best, nicely balancing the progressive, folk-inspired element from their early days with a more robust, melodic hard rock touch. Far From the Sun inched toward that more accessible sound, but as enjoyable an album as it was, one could sense a malaise in both Koskinen’s singing and the band’s overall sound, but the instant you hear Eclipse’s opening cut “Two Moons”, it’s clear that Joutsen was just the shot in the arm the band needed.

In direct contrast to the rather easygoing Far From the Sun, “Two Moons” bursts out of the gate, Santeri Kallio providing his usual serpentine synth riffs, and Joutsen displaying impressive range, alternating from a commanding bellow to a distinctive, lower-register baritone. The straightforward rock formula suits the band very well, as Kallio and guitarist Esa Holopainen display a knack for composing terrific, memorable hooks, while still incorporating the band’s trademark guitar/ keyboard-oriented style; “Born From Fire” is first-rate power metal (in the vein of fellow Finns Nightwish), built around a slick lead guitar melody, while the brooding, goth-tinged “House of Sleep” ranks as one of the finest singles they’ve ever put out (not to mention their most successful, topping the charts in Finland), Joutsen’s nuanced vocal performance adding a welcome depth that had always been absent in Amorphis’s music.

While the majority of Eclipse is up-tempo, there are a couple of instances that hearken back to the more languid sounds of the previous record, namely “Under a Soil and Black Stone” and “Same Flesh”. The folk-oriented side of Amorphis will never fully disappear, and longtime fans will take great pleasure in such tracks as “Leaves Scar”, “Perkele (The God of Fire)”, and the lovely “The Smoke”, three songs that mark a glorious return to the folk death metal that made the band famous more than a decade ago. Sumptuous, sinewy synth and guitar melodies wind their way around each song as Joutsen and Koivusaari (who reprises his death vocals!) trade verses, no song venturing longer than four minutes, a testament to the veteran band’s restraint, fully aware that less is often more.

After an extended period of experimentation, Amorphis appear to have finally found just the right combination of hooks and progressive moments on Eclipse, and with their third lead vocalist, have finally stumbled upon the right person for the job, as Joutsen carries the entire record with his robust, yet appealing performance. It’s easily one of the most impressive transformations of an established metal act in years, and what an album, to boot.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.

Film

A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.

Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.