Thursday, October 5, 2023

Full Length Review: Amorphis "Queen Of Time (Live At Tavastia 2021)" (Atomic Fire Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Amorphis
Location: Helinski
Country: Finland
Genre: Progressive metal/rock
Full length: Queen Of Time (Live At Tavastia 2021)
Format: Digital, digipak CD/Blu-ray (EU), jewel case CD/Blu-ray (US), double green marbled gatefold LP, double red marbled gatefold LP (exclusively from Atomic Fire Records)
Release date: October 13, 2023
How many of you are familiar with Amorphis' 2018 release "Queen of Time"? If you’ve heard it, you will know it’s one of their most indulgently progressive efforts to date, blending Celtic folk, progressive metal, rock and power metal with melodic death metal from “The Karelian Isthmus”, “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” and “Elegy” from early in their recording career. The band has demonstrated unwavering integrity while taking increasing risks, and metal purists responded approvingly.
Considering all the innovation Amorphis has pursued, it is not surprising that fans of Iron Maiden, Queensryche and Fates Warning would commend their efforts as much as fans of Amon Amarth, Hypocrisy, and In Flames. The band combines harsh vocals with melodic harmonies, Celtic and Egyptian influences, metal riffs, and cybernetic keyboards, all of which combine to spellbind anyone within hearing range. Easy-to-understand phrasing and orchestral choruses aid this process.
For a new live album (their third), the finest aspects of "Queen of Time" have been enhanced and magnified. Filming of this session took place in 2021 at the Tavastia Club in Helinski, Finland. As they performed without an audience (during the Covid pandemic), they drew on each other's energy and felt the music they recreated from "Queen of Time" in the manner of an actual concert. In many ways this made for a set that was solid and close-fitting, amplifying the album’s strong points.
The release of "Queen Of Time (Live At Tavastia 2021)" coincides with the Halo European Tour 2023, which is scheduled to begin late in October. It is evident from the two advance promotional videos that Amorphis put a great deal of effort into their presentation. There’s just as much importance placed on the stage set and lighting as there is on the instruments, sound system, the club’s acoustics and especially on the level of concentration focused on "Wrong Direction" and "Amongst Stars".
All these elements organized into the show create a wall of sound and visuals allowing these songs to express every minute shading. The stage lights convey the lyrics and the images they are intended to evoke by playing on light and darkness. This is further illustrated by the contrast between the melodic and harsh vocals vocalist Tomi Joutsen delivers with equal force. He also switches into a mechanized style in the middle of "Wrong Direction" without missing any mid-song cues.
Each change in time or mood is handled flawlessly by the entire band, and everyone involved gets a chance to shine. This includes Anneke Van Giersbergen, known for being the vocalist of The Gathering who has collaborated with Within Temptation, Napalm Death, Moonspell, Anathema, Novembers Doom, among others. Her appearance on "Amongst Stars" adds to the mystical elements of this song as much as Joutsen’s melodious passages. All a taste of what’s to come this month. –Dave Wolff

Tomi Joutsen: Vocals
Esa Holopainen: Guitars
Tomi Koivusaari: Guitars
Olli-Pekka Laine: Bass
Santeri Kallio: Keyboards
Jan Rechberger: Drums
Anneke Van Giersbergen: Guest vocals on “Amongst Stars”

Track list:
1. The Bee
2. Message In The Amber
3. Daughter Of Hate
4. The Golden Elk
5. Wrong Direction
6. Heart Of The Giant
7. We Accursed
8. Grain Of Sand
9. Amongst Stars
10. Pyres On The Coast

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