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Far From The Sun sucked, and that’s coming from a major Amorphis fan. The band’s sound was so disjointed on the last album, but here they completely recaptured their writing (credit mostly goes to Esa and Santeri). Eclipse is one of my favorite albums as it begins a new journey for Amorphis, sounding fresh, refined, and inspirational without treading closely to what the band’s already done. It’s an album demonstrating enthused talent, prodigious character, superlative memorability, and proficient flow. It’s on par with Tales From The Thousand Lakes and better than Am Universum, taking the formula from both and crafting it into something creatively engaging once again. That’s the benefit of Amorphis’ buoyant formula (something they took for granted as they got comfortable with Joutsen).
Eclipse has the liveliness and hunger that Far From The Sun mostly forgot. This time Amorphis went more metal, bringing back thick roars in their harsh vocals while keeping warm cleans. The songs might have already written before Joutsen joined, but he’s the guy making this album a beastly, invigorating listening experience. His voice commands more assuredly than Pasi’s did, with songs like “Born From Fire” demonstrating vocal range of soaring, dense cleans and songs like “Perkele (The God Of Fire)” showing his monstrous, ferocious growling / roaring style. These vocals are but a (major) piece of this album’s fiery quality, backed by the most professional of production jobs. Both styles are memorable, soothing / relaxing (yes, the growls, too), skilled, and imposing. The album’s wholehearted, bolstering tone is one that the band perfected on this release. It’s one that doesn’t fit melodic / death metal solely, nor the progressive sound that pops in here and there.
The rest of the band keeps things charming as well. Esa’s got leads that are spacey, harmonic, eclectic, and poignant when they need to be. No song is without hooks, booming riffs, burly bass, Joutsen’s authoritative performance, pacifying drumming, and those appropriately applied keys. “Same Flesh” is a little underwhelming, but that’s about the most I can say to knock this album down (Esa’s stunning leads keep it from suck-territory). There are the jovial, the atmospheric, the hits, the folky, and the heavier songs that keep the album varied and entertaining yet consistent and packed with substance. Praise must be given to three songs in particular, for they are leveling in terms of memorability and the awe they convey: “House Of Sleep,” “Under A Soil And Black Stone,” and “Empty Opening”. All three are diverse, riveting, and sorrowful in their own right. The chorus in “House Of Sleep”, the epic leads of “Under A Soil And Black Stone” (I’d take it with “Alone” from Am Universum), and the vastness of “Empty Opening” represent Amorphis at their best. Koivusaari’s riffs are succulent, the keys are tangy, and Esa’s captivating leads with Joutsen’s soulful performance at the front make these my album-favorites.
The decision to integrate the Amorphis collective to pursue a blended sound was the right move. It provides a familiar background for older listeners while maintaining an easy approach for new listeners to hear. Eclipse was released around the time I first heard Tales From The Thousand Lakes and Elegy, so it goes way back for me in my metal-listening years. Hopefully it holds the same value for future listeners who want something confident and comforting from a band that knows how to explore.
Even if Amorphis' last record "Far From The Sun" was by far not as bad as many critics said and ultimately a very calm and progressive grower, it was still the weakest release in the almost unbeatable discography of the Finnish masters of experimental metal. "Eclipse" marks their return to form and they truly are back with a bang. The new singer Tomi Joutsen is even more unique and diversified than the amazing Pasi Koskinen and he unites the past roots and the more modern progressive works of Amorphis as he easily switches from emotional and voluminous death growls to melancholic and catchy clean vocals sing-along passages.
The new and old aggressive style of a couple of tracks and the short length of the songs sound very healthy on this album. Every track quickly gets to the point and half of the songs are potential hit singles. The melodic and romantic single "House Of Sleep" has beautiful piano passages and one of the catchiest choruses ever written by the band. The more floating, calm and inspiring "The Smoke" or the soft hymn "Brother Moon" with some interesting guitar riffs and chords hit in the same vein and it was a good choice to take this track as a second single. Today, a concert without those catchy tracks and public's favourites would be unimaginable.
From a more aggressive point of view, Amorphis delivers a surprisingly very straight opener this time with "Two Moons" that features energizing screams and a beautiful harmonious chorus. The track also already adds something completely new to the diversified sound of Amorphis with its electronic approach in the beginning, bashing drum loops and exotic folk passages. In only three minutes, there are more details, experiments and innovation than other bands put in entire albums. "Leaves Scar" is comparable to this and maybe my favourite track on this strong album. It has relaxed folk passages, death metal verses and a catchy and beautiful chorus. This is an energizing song to dream, sing and also bang your head along just like Tomi Joutsen does in its own impressive way during the great live shows of the band. "Perkele (God Of Fire)" once again unites folk passages, a calm chorus and punching death metal verses and is one of the straightest metal tracks Amorphis have written since the glorious days of "Tales From The Thousand Lakes". There are more metal elements that shape the sound of Amorphis once again. I just need to mention the brilliant guitar work, for example the emotional solo in "Born From Fire".
Amorphis also writes some melancholic and introspective tracks like the inspiring half ballad "Under A Soil And Black Stone" or the progressive lounge sounds in the atmospheric grower "Same Flesh" as well as the album closer "Empty Opening" and also the enjoyable bonus track "Stone Woman" included on the special editions that could have also been on the previous two record with their warm organ sounds, weird crying guitar chords and transcendently floating vocals.
This diversity proves that this album would be an ideal start for a newbie to get into the world of Amorphis. "Eclipse" almost sounds like a compilation of the band's best moments and still marks the beginning of a new era and the introduction of a couple of new and fresh ideas.
This also leads to the only negative point of the entire record. The songs are all close to perfection but don't always fit together. The last records all had a common point of approach, an almost conceptual feeling, a big coherence in the material which is quite heterogeneous itself. "Eclipse" mixes the band's roots, the band's latest experiments and some new aspect into one melting pot that makes less sense than the last records. It rather seems as if the band had made three different writing sessions or used some lost tunes from the past to finally put out a new album with their new singer to show that they are back in force and more variable than ever. Maybe the band should simply have taken its time to focus on the compatibility of the single songs as they prove on the upcoming records that they didn't lose their talent to create special emotions and atmospheric concepts on entire albums. As they decided to not do this, "Eclipse" sounds sometimes directionless and could maybe be considered as a more transitional record to confront the new singer as well as the fans with everything the band has already done before. This may now sound way more negative as it is, as the quality of the material is still better than anything else released in the same year and I only took of a little five percent for this minimal flaw.
All in all, this is one of Amorphis great albums but not the perfect way to kick a bright new era off. My high rating still speaks volumes about the quality of this diversified masterpiece filled with live anthems and many potential hit singles and this record should find its place in any collection of an open-minded metal fan.
After the stunning defeat of Far From the Sun three years earlier, Amorphis recouped and recruited Tomi Joutsen of Sinisthra to replace Pasi Koskinen on the vocals, and signed to Nuclear Blast. It was a good choice, because while Joutsen does have a deeper, more rock & roll edge to his tone, which took a little getting used to, he is fully capable of the range of growls and cleans of his predecessor. Eclipse was a very positive step forward (and backwards), because from the proggy, slamming keyboards and melody that open "Two Moons", the band makes it clear they are returning to their better days (Elegy in particular), without fully abandoning the 'advances' they made through the late 90s.
Now, I'm not saying this comes anything close to the quality of yesteryear, but it's at least a reasonable attempt, and the polar opposite to the stagnant Far from the Sun. This is a pleasant listen throughout, most songs featuring at least some catchy moment, and the thick broth of piano, synthesizer, raging guitar rhythms is finally back where it belongs, smack dab in the center of 1996. This is the sound of an invigorated band who have cast aside the diminishing returns of their ambitions and returned to the sunshine.
Eclipse opens with a bang in the thundering "Two Moons", with flanged, grinding guitars that transform into an escalating, melodic chorus, the band showing off the range of Tomi Joutsen right up front. He can do pretty, he can do powerful, and he can even combine the two, with a dirty undercurrent to his melodic lines as the verse crashes. "House of Sleep" would be the first single for this album, and it's got a soaring vocal chorus and adequate melody, but not too memorable. "Leaves Scar" commences with fluted grace, before a surging Viking metal moment in which Joutsen lets the growls out; the chorus is quite powerful and it's one of my particular favorites of this album. "Born from Fire" features a sad and effective melody throughout, whether on the guitar or repeated through the pianos at the mid-track breakdown, and "Under a Soil and Black Stone" is a swaggering piece which builds to an appropriate climax of choir-like organs and folk-tinged guitar lines reminiscent of tracks like "The Way" from Tuonela.
'To the stars shine
Casting my eyes by the long nights
Blessed I was
To rest then'
"Perkele (The God of Fire)" spices up the record with some low-end, grooving doom/death which sounds straight from Tales from the Thousand Lakes, and Joutsen truly belts forth the growls, which combine with the wahs and cruising, crushing pace of the track to create another of the more memorable tracks. "The Smoke" centers around one of those Amorphis melodies so catchy that you wonder why it was never written before (or was it?), and some more growls during the chorus. I like where this is going! Joutsen gets pretty manly and emotional in the chorus for "Same Flesh", and "Brother Moon" is the perfect theme to a Finnish Western...with spears and frost below a night sky. "Empty Opening" builds to a steady, memorable chorus with a surge of octave chords and bristling organs. If you've got the American edition of Eclipse, you will also have "Stonewoman", the b-side for the House of Sleep single, and it fit rights in, with soothing vocal dual melodies in the verse, and another strong chorus.
The tones for the album are highly fulfilling, with the best mix post-Elegy that the band had mustered. Thick bass, chugging guitars, scintillating melodies, excellent synths and organs that weave seamlessly across the rock elements. For the most part, the songs are great, with 1-2 exceptions, and it's had an opposite effect on me than some of their albums like Tuonela and Am Universum...that is to say, it's appeal has only increased with age. A highly refreshing effort and the beginning to a positive new era for the Finns.
Highlights: Leaves Scar, Perkele (The God of Fire), The Smoke, Empty Opening
Line up changes can either make or break a band. In Amorphis’ case, it did neither. The band were long established when vocalist Pasi Koskinen left after 2003’s Far From The Sun (what many consider to be their most subdued release). However this was not the end of Amorphis. In fact this was just what the band needed. A reinvention of their sound, and in many cases, a return.
Immediately we notice much more energy in the music with opener, Two Moons. This is mostly due to new vocalist Tomi Joutsen who gives the most powerful vocal performance the band has ever seen. Don’t let the electronic intro scare you away, Two Moons becomes a great tune with a very memorable chorus (something present in most of the songs). House Of Sleep is even more catchy and holds as much replay value. However it isn’t until Leaves Scar until the heaviness kicks in. It’s here where we are treated to the first death growls since Tuonela. Yet even with this addition, the songs remain just as catchy. Things slow down with the beautiful piano of the ballad, Under A Soil And Black Stone but pick right up with the two most demanding songs here, Perkele (The God Of Fire) and The Smoke.
There are no bad songs on this album. The latter half slightly winds down in energy, but there are certainly no filler tracks, only ones that stand out more than others. This is not only the most powerful Amorphis album in years, but also the most diverse. The band have always been melodic but the middle eastern sounding intro to Perkele harkens back to the Elegy days. What really sold me to Eclipse was Tomi Joutsen. His vocals on this album and the next are the breath of fresh air that Amorphis needed to climb back on top of their game. Whether it’s the emotional yearnings of Under A Soil And Black Stone or the thundering aggression of Perkele, he executes everything with uncompromising passion.
Eclipse is a piece of art that is certainly difficult to describe. The sound, the feel, and the mood of the music are all new and fresh for Amorphis. Despite the upbeat songs, the mood of the album is dark and there is a sense of sorrow and grief. Conveying these emotions in such a way is something few bands have done so well, and to draw it on throughout an entire album is truly a feat.
Eclipse is appropriately titled. The sound is a merge of early and recent years of the band. If Amorphis continue to release material of this quality, I will remain a fan for many more years.
What makes a quesadilla delicious? Is it the two layers of tortilla, the optional fillings like chicken or steak, the toppings like salsa or sour cream?
Nay, my friends, it is the CHEESE.
And said cheese is what makes “Eclipse” so tasty. The songwriting on this piece of plastic rivals the demonic Abba in terms of catchy hook-ridden composition. If you make it out of this album without a chorus stuck in your head, you are one hardcore motherfucker. Either there is no more room left in your brain for infectious and oft-repeated refrains, or you listen to so much old school Napalm Death you are not interested in hooks at all.
Each song is chock full of layered vocals, orchestral sections (read: keyboards), simple lyrical passages and repetition. Amorphis want you to remember this shit. They are not fucking around. Despite your innate metallic nature rebelling against the radio-ready anthems that fill “Eclipse,” you will have a favorite song in no time. And that favorite song will co-inhabit your brain with the choruses from three or four other songs and THEY WILL NOT GO AWAY. Somewhere, someone you know is suffering from “Same flesh” syndrome right now. It hurts.
To sum it up, this shit is hookier than a tacklebox. Cha-ching.
How did they cook up such an insidious treat, after years (by all accounts) of lackluster releases? The band’s history may hold our answer. Let me tell you a story. Long, long ago Amorphis was a death metal band. So long ago, in fact, that the band themselves forgot this and turned kinda progressive, then downright poppy. They even changed their logo, a sure sign of trouble ahead. Some shit went down in 2004 that messed up the band and the lead singer of many moons left, leaving his slot open for someone else who could do both growls on a very limited basis and clean vocals on a much larger scale. So the ‘Morph found themselves searching for a new vocalist. They combed the magical land of Finland, searching every saari, mounting every mäki, fording every fjord. And they found Tomi Joutsen, and it was good.
He could sing like a big dude who has an emotional side. He could growl like a big dude who thinks about evil sometimes. He could subtly manipulate his voice to drive choruses directly into a listener’s brain like the helmeted dude drove nails into male and female genitalia in Nailgun Massacre. “Perfect,” said Amorphis. And so “Eclipse” was born, and though it was simple it garnered praise. While it contained a modicum of actual metal, it was embraced by the less brahutahl members of the metal community. Some believed it was a return to form from their more deathy days of old. Amorphis was pleased. The half-metal quesadilla they had cooked had poisoned the minds of many. Their 18 year career could continue until the world will cease to be.
Fast forward to present day (actually about a month ago). A metalhead interested in expanding his classic death metal collection has heard good things about Amorphis’ old stuff like “The privilege of evil.” His fiance lurked in the background while he played songs from their MySpace page. “Leaves Scar” came on, and the little lady’s ears perked up. “I want this,” she said, and she would not take no for an answer.
In the end Amorphis’ unique abilities to capture both the less and more metallic has claimed another victim. They know that goddamn Juusota quesadilla is sizzling and squeaking at home, knowing that it will be consumed once again.
Originally Posted on: www.globaldomination.se
Those who don’t know Amorphis here is a very quick lesson. In the early 90’s the Finnish death metal act started their long and progressive career. Over the years they have strayed from the death metal sound and into a more modern rock/melodic metal sound (to an almost stoner rock atmosphere). Until now they had completely dropped elements of their old styles to a more modern rock feel. With Eclipse they venture (halfway) back to their roots to show their fans that influences do not always change.
After the sub-par ‘Far From the Sun’ the 9 year vocalist left the band for personal reasons. This created a Finland-wide search for a new front man. Hundreds of demos later they finally came across Tomi Joutsen to fill the shoes as front man for the band. During the opening track, Two Moons, it is quite apparent that the entire band is very pleased and confident with their choice. The music is more aggressive, the melodies are complete and strong, the vocals include the passion that was left out on the last few albums and both, the music and vocals, blend perfectly together.
Tomi brings the strength needed to match the power of the music being played here. Both his diversity and strength are noticeable as he smoothly diverts his voice from one style to another (and back) in the same song. Not to mention the reintroduction of growled vocals. “Leaves Scar” and “Perkele (God of Fire)” both have choruses sung completely in death metal growled vocals. Those fans that have been following the band through their career will let out a long sigh of relief to hear these old elements making a powerful come back. The blending of the different styles of vocals on “The Smoke” leaves you wondering exactly how Tomi’s voice can handle such drastic changes, especially while singing live.
The lyrics are based on Finnish mythology, like they have been in the past, but more closely; Kalevala and the tragic fate of Kullervo. This allowed the band to exercise their new inspiration with writing extremely powerful lyrics and taking their musicianship beyond their own limits. They use their past musical formulas, such as the growled death metal vocals, to deliver those hardened lyrics and melodies to your ears. It is reminiscent and thankfully something that has not been left out. Also like the first few albums the songs have taken on a more folk feel to them, instead of the catchy modern rock melodies the band has depended on more recently.
“House of Sleep” is the first single off the album. It gives you a perfect example of what to expect from the album: keyboard driven melodies, catchy lead guitars and powerful vocals pouring out just as powerful lyrics. Soon after finishing your first journey through the album you'll notice that any song could have made for a perfect first single. It cannot be stressed enough how well the music and vocals blend the melodies together. “Brother Moon” easily stands out with its beautiful chorus that gives you the eerie feeling (even on first listen) that you've heard it somewhere else before.
The acoustics on the album are so beautifully executed. Whether it is throughout an entire song such as “Under a Soil and Black Stone” or the intros of “The Smoke”, “Brother Moon” and “Leaves Scars”; it is yet another element that adds the perfect folk touch to the album.
The sound as a whole is strong guitar leads layered with adapted keyboards and gallant rhythms. It demonstrates the band’s long history while still driving them (and their fans) forward through their continued progressive careers. The new vocalist and profound vision they have their eyes set on shows signs of great things to come from this already seasoned group of musicians.
I won't go through a play-by-play, but this album is definitely worth checking out. Amorphis is unique to me in that they always seem to evoke the most nostalgic of moments in me that surpass other bands' lack of intensity. Amorphis knows how to not overdo things; sometimes a simple, repetitive melody of quality is all that it takes to throw me over the edge. Take, for example, the song "The Smoke." From the beginning, it just drips with sweet hand-clenching power as it takes me on a trip of beauty and new beginnings. I don't even need to look up the lyrics to know that this is a song I can listen to for the music alone. The guitar adds dimension to the same tune that is the intro and the drums are on key, the vocals are a celestial blend of deep growls and smooth but perfectly aligned clean vocals powered from within.
"Perkele (The God of Fire)" opens with a middle-eastern-type melody and then the guitars just jump in with an almost viking riff that I can bang my head to. I scream the lyrics as I nod my head as if to say a big "Yes!" to Amorphis' exquisite art form of music. This song seems more like an anthem than anything as I feel I am a part of it and the course of the song affects me differently each time. Other highlights for me include “Under a Soil and Black Stone,” “Two Moons,” “Stone Woman,” and “Leaves Scar.”
The lyrics are always subtle and well planned like how they were back in their "Black Winter Day" days. This album is poetic and yet the music is definitely the focus of it all since no band can get by on lyrics alone. Amorphis are the kings of the synthesizer, making it work beautifully within the music without making it seem cheesy or power metal-like. I think that these songs are heavy, laden with imagery and sounds that took more than a few tries to perfect.
The intros are also another great feature of this album; sometimes I find myself only listening to the first minute or so of each song in order because they are so melodic and it’s a way for me to listen to each wonderful song in a quick sitting. That is not to say, however, that their solos are not great, because they are. There are no boring parts to the songs…a first from any band for me.
I don't know how I could classify this album since it has the better elements of every type of music but Amorphis' choice of instrumental layout and layering is just so meticulously done that I find them hard to compare to any other band. I cannot describe the overflow of good feelings that become of me when I listen to Eclipse. While it is not my favorite album, I think that the direction that this band took was natural and fitting.
I am not sure why I didn’t give it a perfect rating…maybe it’s because this type of music isn’t necessarily my genre of choice. It’s less technical than music I’m accustomed to. But I can appreciate the sheer talent that went into the makings of this wonderful addition to the Amorphis collection!
This is easily, so far, the metal album of the year. The absolute range of imagery and feelings spans so far, there is no area they don't touch. Eclipse is the CD that is consistently in my 6-disc player. Many may move out and in, depending on my mood, but Eclipse is always there.
I have been an Amorphis fan since 1999. I was new to Metal. I had listened to mostly Heavy Metal. It started with early 80's Ozzy and moved into Queensryche and Metallica. Then I went through the Grunge phase (sorry everyone, we all make mistakes - Alice in Chains is an exception) . Then it all turned sour. I tried to listen to the Nu-Metal and found it lacking.
Fast-forward to a new website called mp3.com (some may remeber it ). I found a category called Metal. The first thing I found was Amorphis. Black Winter Days grabbed me by the short and curlies. I was hooked with the absolute mood and power of what I now consider Metal. I have been a fan ever since. But, enough about me.
Eclipse is one of those CDs that sounds alive. From the moment you listen to it, it pulls you in. The addition of Tomi Joutsen has somehow brought out new meaning and life to the lyrics. He has an uncanny ability to change from a soothing, mellow tone to one of such power and emotion. It is something that really takes you back. Then, you throw in the classic vocals of Tomi Koivusaari - the absolute complement to a voice like Joutsen's.
As for the music, it stands alone. Amorphis has stayed true to their origins in Finish folk music. You can hear it in every song. Be it the intros, the solos, or throughout the entire song, it is beautiful. They also seem to know when to allow the vocals to take over, when to complement the vocals, and when to let the instruments come alive and push to the front. And they do that with incredible elegance. Everything works. They now bring in a maturity that blends some of the old with some of the new. It seems to be a perfect blend.
Even though Eclipse is near perfect from start to finish, there are a few tracks that really stand out.
The Smoke is what I feel this CD is really is all about. It starts as a lead-in from Perkele. A transition with a melody that makes you want more. The guitars break in and push the feeling with an anticipation of what is to come. Send in Joutsen's vocals to ease you into the song. Gorgeous. Then comes the chorus with the pounding sound of Koivusaari, teaming with Joutsen's melodic voice. After a second chorus, the song flows through a well-executed solo, leading to a "calm before the storm" - a little melody section that lets you know something is going to happen. And what happens is a storm of passion. And that tandem of Tomi's is enough to make you lose it. They ratchet up the intesity to a cressendo that leaves you wanting to play this song over and over again.
Brother Moon is folk from the start. It's another song that makes the most of Joutsen's vocals. He pushes into you the feeling of "see what I see - feel what I feel." The keyboards, guitars and the drumming all work in perfect harmony. Then, add in ever-welcome vocals of Koivussari. Incredible.
Leaves Scar is one that you cannot explain. It starts off melodic and gorgeous. Seriousness then follows. Koivussari makes his present felt by punching you in the face. The intesity of his passion is pretty much unmatched. The exception to that is Joutsen showing his might in the chorus. He pulls out all the stops on this one. Again, the two of them work so well together.
House of Sleep is one that almost harkens back to my old days of Heavy Metal. The rhythm is of 80's metal decent. But Amorphis throws in their own flavor to take that music to the next level. The keyboards range from 80's classic Heavy Metal to 70's-ish (ala Styx). It takes the old-school metal and the classic metal and brings it to something that works today.
As I have said, I have been an Amorphis fan since the moment I heard them, but what they have accomplished with Eclipse is, in my opinion, their best effort to date. Amophis has pushed to a new level of excellence and I hope they keep on this trail. Their maturity as a band and the addition of Joutsen's vocals leaves me wanting more...and more...and more. Grab this one with all you might. They don't come along often.
After the very popular and critically praised Elegy, Amorphis arguably went on a descending route. Both Tuonela and AM Universum were not so appreciated, while their intended “return to older ways”, Far Away From The Sun, fell short of achieving the rebirth they needed. After they separated paths with Pasi Koskinen (Ajattara, Shape Of Depair), their longtime vocal, many were left in doubt of the band's future. But in 2006, with a new vocal in Tomi Joutsen, Amorphis returns with Eclipse.
Here, Tomi Koivusaari’s harsh vocals are occasionally back and they accomplish a good contrasting effect with the clean and sometimes aggressive of Joutsen. Eclipse finds Amorphis successfully reinventing themselves. The instrumentals are stepped up a bit in rhythm and they sound more lively than on previous albums. If I was unaware with their past, I would have dared to say that it sounds just like an album of a new band trying to make its way to shine among the rest of the metal legions. Joutsen, the new vocal, is a fan of Amorphis' earlier work himself and he's a more than accomplished vocal as Eclipse will prove it: he'll blow you away with his wide pallete of clean and harsh singing. He's definitely one that deserves watching after in the metal scene.
In 45 minutes (including the bonus track) Amorphis reaffirms its musical talent and ability to evolve. The album flows nicely from the good opener “Two Moons” to the one of the highlights, “House Of Sleep”; on this song one can hear a feminine voice seldomly singing along with Joutsen (something you will also notice on “Same Flesh”). After its soft and melancholic intro, “Leaves Scar” showcases some of the strongest vocal combinations on the album. Here one can enjoy a very good cooperation between harsh and clean vocals and the same stands true on „Perkele (The God Of Fire)” which then intros „The Smoke” through a beautiful echoed guitar passage.
The use of other not-so-traditional instruments is limited on this offering but what’s really to be appreciated is that this doesn’t hurt their instrumental complexity at all. In fact, because of a really good (although not glossy) production, the music sounds clearer and sharper than on previous effort, „Far Away From The Sun”. Brutal yet at times gentle, all-in-all, this is a very well accomplished album which brings a fresh breath of life, both in the Amorphis world and the metal scene.
The members of Amorphis are now in the prime of their careers. Having switched styles and manners in their type of music over their years, they now seem to have found their niche, and with Eclipse they’ve reclaimed their place as one of the top artists of their genre.
I must admit I was a little bit suspicious after the departure of long-time vocalist Pasi Koskinen, since this “Tomi Joutsen” character was little known to me. Tomi, however, brings the fresh tones to the sound which has sounded too much the same too long. Sometimes a slight change is good, and Tomi is living proof of it. Other than his vocals, the overall performance by the band is simply stunning. Never before has Amorphis’ music sounded this interesting. While the quality may have stayed the same (Amorphis has always been full with good musicians), this refreshment is more than welcome in my opinion. They now dare to take risks more than often, which is also good, and particularly in songwriting the whole scenario of “Eclipse” works very well. Take “Two Moons” for instance. They give quite a scare the first seconds of the track, as the keyboards sound insecure and weird. But as soon as the other instruments kick in, you know it works, because then both the rhythm and melody seem comfortable. “Two Moons” by the way is the most experimental track here, with it’s difficulty to apprehend the full patterns of the song. The casual weaker melodies (most apparent on their album “Tuonela”) are still here and there. Although they may be widely spread out, it bugs me how they sometimes satisfy with the weaker efforts. The single “House of Sleep” contains way too much trails of Charon for their own good. Same goes for “Born from Fire”. Tomi single-handedly saves these two tracks. “The Smoke” brings back old Amorphis with a little bit of growling. The vocalist handles both clean vocals and growls very well. “Empty opening” is also worth mentioning for its majestic chorus.
As stated, Amorphis have reclaimed their status they once had. Although this is not “Elegy” (classic), it’s breathes enough new energy through the whole genre, so one can already safely say this stands out as one of the best albums of the year.
Ooh. You feel that? It's that most special of sensations, that strange mix between a warmth in your belly and a cool breeze on your neck. It's the feeling of sweet vindication, because the new Amorphis is here and by the Kalevala it is good! This is not really vindication for me, since I expected it to suck, but almost like sympathetic sensation for the band who must surely be patting themselves on the back for this effort. Amorphis are perhaps the best band of the last fifteen years, and Eclipse reaffirms their regality after the big misstep called Far From the Sun.
There's an almost palpable sense of renewal here, new vocalist Tomi Jousten leading the boys through an invigorating set of epic melodic metal, the band continuing to operate in this rarefied unclassifiable zone, a state of the art apart from the hustle and bustle of the mainstream. Eclipse is something of a return to form and another new direction for the band, crossbreeding elements of Elegy and Tuonela but different from either. The ultra-melodic guitars still ring and sing like The Edge gone riff mad and Jousten can carry a lovely melody as well as anyone I've heard, but there's less Pink Floyd shrouding the proceedings and there's a metal-munching power back at the forefront, Jousten's soaring roars and the howling harmonized leads signifying a remembrance of terrains more frigid and frosty.
As with most of the band's more recent offerings, the artwork is gorgeous and perfectly reflects the sounds within. This album sounds intensely seasonal to me, "Two Moons" through "Under a Soil and Black Stone" invoking the feel of spring's intense life melting winter's deathgrip on the land, burgeoning life rising from the snow, while the next few tracks are hot and pulsating like a blazing summer before its virility finally fades gracefully away through the long August days of "Brother Moon" and "Empty Opening". This feels in tune with nature in the same way a lot of doom does, a side-effect of Amorphis' fascination with traditions of their homeland and in more traditional/ethnic musics.
The best of Amorphis' works have exercised a canny dichotomy, at once very extroverted and accessible and yet also promising a depth of hook and melody beyond virtually anything else so easily swallowed. The secret to this, and Eclipse is no exception, is to make the surface of the record so beautiful and rich that the listener can simply enjoy the surface of the sound indefinitely, not needing to listen deeply because the sound is so full and so ornate that one doesn't come to feel he or she knows the song like the back of their hand in three or four listens. I rarely find myself questioning why the band arranged the songs the way they did, or why they made the musical choices they did, because there is so much beauty here that with each listen I simply become kind of entranced, discerning new and lush dimensions to each immaculate composition.
Now, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve made quite a few references to the Amorphis catalogue entire as opposed to simply talking about Eclipse. Simply put, the reason behind this is that as I said before Eclipse is not a huge step away from the classic mid-years sound, and as such it has almost instantly fallen into step with their other releases and can easily be examined in relation to the others. Amorphis could almost be accused of returning to the well that granted them great success in the past, but the fact of the matter is, nobody else is or ever has produced anything that really sounds like mid-years Amorphis anyway and such a golden sound should never be left to gather dust. Even so, this release doesn’t exactly break a ton of new ground which is quite possibly its only significant flaw. But try as I might, it is pretty much impossible to keep that in mind when listening to it.
Bludgeoning opener “Two Moons” is a strident clarion call, announcing that in spite of seven years of demonstrating that metal records can be made that never move above mid-tempo they can still move at a brisk pace, announcing that yes, they are going to get all growly again, and finally yes unclassifiable songs of three minutes and change can be epic enough to outstrip pretty much the entire power metal genre. “Leaves Scar” is the kind of song that I wish I could play for Mikael Akerfeldt as an object lesson in how to incorporate acoustic guitars into blaring death metal with brevity and taste, the song clocking in at a measly 03:24 yet showcasing a wide breadth of strikingly different motifs and feels within a coherent overarching structure. And after I played him that, I’d probably follow it up with the glorious one-two punch of “Perkele (God of Fire)” and “The Smoke”, complementary examples of melodic death grown in ignorance of Gothenburg by some cagey veterans, exhibiting an intuitive knowledge of genre crossbreeding honed through masterworks like “To Father's Cabin”, “Weeper on the Shore”, and most pertinently “Greed”.
This is the type of album where I could speak at lengths about each individual track, and describe to you each lasting note of each languorous guitar solo, but it wouldn’t help you, dear reader, to decide to pick up the album except as an innate response to the overwrought passion exhibited by this particular scribbler of reviews. I almost have to wonder if I’ve already written too much about individual tracks, but I have to get this across to you: This is a great album, and it will probably be the best of 2006. For anyone with any interest in metal with great melody and great passion this is an essential release. And if you’re a fan of Amorphis, all things considered, this might just be their very best.
Stand-Out Tracks: “The Smoke”, “Under a Soil and Black Stone”, “Two Moons”
As this was my first Amorphis album, I was wary. Reviews of their earlier releases mention saxophone, and even farther back, death metal. This does not have either of the two, thankfully, although harsh grunts make their appearance in several songs. These harsh vox usually are coupled with clean singing before and after. This combination adds conviction and power to the songs. In fact, "power" metal would be a great way to describe the sound on this album. Not power metal in the traditional sense, but metal where each songs leaves a powerful impression on the listener, whether it be from the powerful choruses (this is the case in nearly every song), the subtle yet memorable guitar work, or the effective use of keyboards and piano throughout.
Tomi Joutsen sings (or interperates, if you will) on Eclipse, replacing Pasi Koskinen. Tomi has been criticized by some reviewers for being a cheap Pasi knockoff, but comparisons between the two are folly. For Tomi is one of the highlights of Eclipse, his clean vocals coming somewhere between the lead singers of Sentenced and Danish band Mercenary. The growls don't sound like their coming from some shithead attempting to cover up the fact that he can't sing, these are (once again) powerful, commanding the listener to become almost a part of the music.
The music is melodic, and therefore instantly accessible, yet this is in no way "musical fast food" as in this will not be in and out of one's CD player in, say, a month. There are many layers to this album. The first few listens are highlighted by the choruses and the singing. After a little while, though, one discovers that there is more to this album. The rhythm guitar work, the soloing, the keyboard work, the instrumentation as a whole just prove that a band does not have to show off to impress, and that strong songwriting is what makes a song worthwhile, not instrumental prowess. Take the leadoff track "Two Moons" as an example, there is not a particular aspect or section of the song that is a highlight, the song as a whole is enjoyable from start to finish. And then "Leaves Scar," which I believe is the single of the album, the harsh vocals are in there, yet not some cheap method to trigger nostalgia from older fans. Middle Eastern melodies and such are an idea that has been done to death in hard rock and metal, yet instead of going for the cheap "been there, done that" sound, Amorphis is much more subtle. The listener isn't blown away by that Middle Eastern sound, hell they might not even notice it, but by the end of the song, it stays in one's head until well after the album is over.
Surprisingly there are no weaknesses on the album, even the bonus track is worthwhile. I just wish that Amorphis had experimented with an epic song. "Empty Opening" is over seven minutes long, but much of the second half is just silence, like so many artists like to do for some reason. The only people that I could see not liking this are either people who insist on their music being evil or whatever the hell, or old-school Amorphis who are only looking for a return to their early 1990's sound.
This could be a breakthrough album for Amorphis, and could change the face of mainstream music the way Nirvana did. It almost certainly won't though, not while EMO and Fallout Boy still rule the airways. But what I mean is that this music is instantly accessible; even with the harsh vocals. Yet, even while it is accessible, it yields greater rewards for people like us who don't listen to a song for a month and move on to whatever the next song is to get played non-stop. For people like us who look deeper into the songs, and discover little things; a melody here, a section of a solo there. So turn down the lights, put Eclipse in, and let the music take you on a journey that few albums can.
[Edit: I raised the grade three points because I'm enjoying the entire album just as much as I did when I listened to it for the first time over 8 months ago]