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Another near-perfect masterpiece by finnish pioneers - 90%

Svarec, December 30th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nuclear Blast

Amorphis are one of the staples of European metal scene, having been around since early 90's. When you look at other bands this old, it's very unusual for them to produce truly ground-breaking records. In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Moonspell, not to disparage their latest efforts, keep producing albums which may be just fine, but most people would agree they are nowhere near as innovative and exciting as their 90's records. It's understandable, when you're around this long and gain significant popularity, you may feel as if you accomplished everything you wanted and there's no need to further push the boundaries.

Now Amorphis... After Tomi Joutsen joined the band in 2005, the band produced several very similar albums, and while there was nothing wrong with them, many feared that Amorphis entered the same routine as many other bands. Circle in 2013 brought a scent of fresh air, as it sounded significantly heavier than its predecessors, but the basic formula remained the same. It wasn't until 2015, that the band proved they're not afraid to step out of their comfort zone even late in their career. Under the Red Cloud, produced by Jens Bogren, brought back the feeling of the band’s classic records like Tales of the Thousand Lakes, and mixed it with the experience they gained throughout the years. The songs were catchy, modern, but at the same time had an atmosphere many fans thought was long lost.

When the band announced new album for 2018, many were left wondering whether the band would just follow the same formula as on Under the Red Cloud, or if they would push the boundaries even further. They answer is... kind of.

Queen of Time isn’t just a mindless copy of its predecessor. It's darker, some songs (Daughter of Hate, Grain of Sand) are almost bordering on black metal. It's also more epic, as the band recruited real string orchestra and choir, and as a result, some songs bear significant resemblance to Epica (Heart of the Giant) or Nightwish (Amongst Stars).

One thing to really appreciate about Queen of Time is its variability. No two songs sound the same, some are more epic, other darker. Some are catchy, others have a more progressive structure. This album is truly an album, not just a collection of songs. Listening to Queen of Time is like listening to a story (even though it’s not a conception album). All songs like logically follow each other and there is no need to skip any of them.

Then again, it's still Amorphis. They took their previous album, build on it and created something special, but the underlying formula and sound are still there. Even then, it's remarkable that a band this old can sound so fresh and passionate on their 13th recording.