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☀ - 96%

OzzyApu, April 30th, 2013

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.