WORDS: James Weaver
Finnish metallers AMORPHIS have been fairly consistent over their 25 year career. Despite moving away from their death metal roots, the band have taken the melodic death metal world by storm. Two years on from the fantastic Circle, the band are back with album number 12, Under The Red Cloud. Does this new offering from AMORPHIS continue their chokehold on melodic death metal or does it fall short of the great expectations?
One thing is certain with Under The Red Cloud, this is a very dynamic record. With a whole host of varying instrumentation and pace, the entirety of the record makes for very pleasant listening indeed. AMORPHIS have always been a band that have experimented with their sound yet their identity is clear from the first note of the title track to the closing riffs of White Night. In fact, it is this variation of instruments that makes Under The Red Cloud such a fantastic record, there are spine tingling moments throughout. The reliance of a piano melody on Dark Path from keyboardist Santeri Kallio, the death metal driven riffs of Bad Blood and the soft and subtle use of the flute from guest musician Chrigel Glanzmann (ELUVEITIE) on Tree of Ages all raise the hairs on the back of the neck.
Musically, AMORPHIS are tighter than ever with the band working as an effective unit. For a band that has a complicated sound, it is incredibly satisfying that all the various instruments work exceedingly well. Jan Rechberger’s drumming is consistent and the guitar work of Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari keep the metal edge to AMORPHIS progressive sound whilst Santeri Kallio’s keyboard contributions provides both a progressive and melodic edge, expanding AMORPHIS’ sound beyond one sub-genre. Yet the real star of the show is the vocal work of Tomi Joutsen, who’s combination of growls and cleans have improved dramatically since Circle. The combination of harsh and soft vocals gives Under The Red Cloud the sound they have been building since 2006’s Eclipse.
Whilst Under The Red Cloud still carries all the trademarks of the typical sound of AMORPHIS, this record isn’t just another one in the band’s extensive back catalogue. This is a record of true character and true musicianship; every song carries slight variations to the overall sound without being disjointed in the overall rhythm. Under The Red Cloud is a fantastic record and will make a fine addition to any metal fan’s musical library.