Mini-Review: Amorphis – Circle – Yesss!

Amorphis-CircleI truly believe all reviews should come with a disclaimer. What’s your background with this? Can you review the Star Wars prequels if you never saw the original trilogy? Sure…but your opinion suddenly doesn’t matter to, well, anyone. The new Amorphis is great. Why? Well, the brief intro: A friend gave me Thousand Lakes in 1994 and the band has never trumped it. I hated Elegy at first but stuck with the band through several weak albums before they stormed back with Eclipse. Since then, some are great (Skyforger) and others less so (Silent Waters). There. Now, you have an understanding of my approach to this record. It’s important because like many others, Tales will always remain the pinnacle. But of course, I can’t compare this to that epic. How does this album stand on its own?

After listening to the new October Tide, I found myself bored. Nothing caught me at all, nothing stayed with me after I left the car. When I stepped out of my lovely mini-van to run into the store, I found myself humming several riffs, vocal melodies, drum beats. Yes! That’s what you want! Circle blends the trademark Amorphis sound with spectacular production and has that requisite balance of familiar yet new. Tomi’s vocals are as strong as ever, matching the best clean vocals of the band’s career with that growl that blows away all others. While the death vocals aren’t used too often, they are placed well. Guitars sound crisp and clear, keyboards fit perfectly and the rhythm section fulfills its purpose with a great bass sound and a few well-timed double-bass sections.

This was one of those records that was ‘pretty good’ the first time, but each subsequent listen drew me in more. So many harmonies, riffs and vocal lines were left on my brain minutes even hours after pressing pause. The pattern of Good (Eclipse) – OK – Great – OK is followed by fucking awesome on Circle. With Kalmah coming, I won’t lock this one in, but four months in, it’s by far the album of the year so far. Now to put it on again. LOUD.

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