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The greatness is in the bonus material - 76%

kluseba, August 10th, 2011

Far From The Sun is the weakest album in the strong discography of Amorphis. One can hear that singer Pasi Koskinen lacked passion and emotion and was about to split with the band. It's clear that the band didn't develop any further in the first time in their career and tried to create simply a softer version of the previous progressive metal masterpiece Am Universum. It is as if the band had decided to use filler material and song fragments from the last two recording sessions. The problem is that the tracks all sound quite similar and begin to bore after a while. As this record has a mellow sound and atmosphere, the album overall lacks of energy and can't truly be described as a metal album. This may not always be a bad thing but Amorphis sound really tired on this album.

They have also made a few strange choices. "Evil Inside" was chosen as a first single but it is one of the weakest tracks on the album and has no catchy moments at all. We also have a couple of mellow songs in the middle part of the record. "Ethereal Solitude" sounds for example like a weird and numb song written by some drug addicted progressive rock fans that have lost track of time, space and feeling. The song feels like a pointless jam and lacks of magic passages and stunning originality so that we can’t even categorize it as an authentic Krautrock experiment. This experiment lacks not only of focus but also of conviction and honesty.

The best tracks of the record can be found at the start and the end. "Day of your beliefs" is by far a better single choice than the weak and annoying "Evil Inside" and is probably the catchiest track on the record. The relaxed atmosphere and strong folk influences remind in a positive way of the "Elegy" and "Tuonela" era of the band. I prefer though the album highlight "Planetary Misfortune" that employs floating organ sounds and could have fit on the great Am Universum record. The album finishes on a strong note with the spacey "Higher Ground" which may be my second favourite track on here and the smooth "Smithereens" which is one of the most popular tracks from this album and still at least partially played at some concerts from time to time.

The whole album would have been a lot better though if the band had chosen to include their bonus tracks on the record. Each bonus song is better than the songs three to eight in the weak middle passage. "Darkrooms" for example would have been a perfect single and reminds in a positive way of catchy Finnish dark rock bands such as "HIM" or "The Rasmus" without losing the identity of weird sound experiments of the last Amorphis outputs. This track includes for example a fast paced organ melody and weird sound collages. This song could have been the highlight of the album. While "Shining Turns To Gray" resumes everything one likes about the last two Amorphis outputs in a perfect way, the band also heads for new styles and experiments. "Follow Me Into The Fire" is a doom metal track with a gripping piano melody and some stoner rock influences and "Dreams Of The Damned" is one of the most haunting and melancholic tracks that the band has ever written. Those four bonus tracks as an EP would be by far better than the entire initial album. The fact that the band chose those songs only as bonus tracks is a missed occasion and the worst decision they have ever made. I really suggest any fan to get the American edition of this album or the new release of the record that is also available in Europe now. It may push this album a little bit and make it feel better. Those songs really prove that Amorphis have always developed and tried out new stuff. While the main album mostly sounds like filler material from the last records, the bonus tracks sound like nothing the band has ever done before. Let's add that even the acoustic version of the original title track is better and more gripping than the mellow original song.

If I had to give a rating to the original short album, I would maybe not even give seventy percent to the weakest record of one of my favourite bands. On the other hand, the album would deserve at least eighty percent or even slightly more with the bonus tracks. As both editions exist and are official, I chose the approximate middle of the two possible ratings as my final verdict and want to underline the greatness of the bonus material.