LIVE REVIEW: Amorphis @ Sound Control, Manchester

Finland’s AMORPHIS have become a stable name in heavy metal. Through the band’s development from death metal into progressive/melodic death metal, the band are a force in contemporary heavy metal. On the back of the band’s 12th studio record, last year’s Under The Red Cloud, the band are now well under way on a headline tour of Europe. But will the band be able to upkeep their formidable reputation in the live environment?

Opening proceedings was Greek based metallers POEM. Despite rather empty room the four piece were formidable in their craft. Through the consistent riff work and slick leads the musical ability of the band was something to be marvelled at. And with a frontman who displayed a fantastic range in his abilities, despite looking slightly awkward at times, roared above the music. With their name unknown to those in attendance, POEM may have gained a stronger fanbase following that performance.

Rating: 7/10

TEXTURES have been at the forefront of the development of the djent movement for years now and whilst the scene has become overpopulated with countless bands, the pressure was on for the Dutch to provide a captivating and memorable live performance. On the back of their latest record, Phenotype, the band dedicated a large majority of their set to performing new material. This proved to be a positive move, as TEXTURES were at their very best throughout these tracks. Illuminate The Trail, Shaping a Single Grain of Sand and New Horizons all sounded massive thanks to the concise performance from the band. Bart Hennephof and Joe Tal‘s riffs packed an almighty punch and the bass tones from Remko Tielemans were both intriguing and gut-wrenchingly heavy. Both the vocal work and overall stage presence of frontman Daniel de Jongh was the stand-out element however, who delivered a range of harsh and clean vocals effortlessly whilst commanding the stage flawlessly.

With the band experiencing a few technical issues, one would assume this would dampen the impact of TEXTURES. However, the band utilised this to their advantage by allowing Uri Dijk to serenade the crowd with a gorgeous delivery of instrumental Zman before unleashing into the incredibly moving Timeless, it made for a hair raising moment. TEXTURES more than demonstrated why they are so revered within progressive metal and djent and this performance showcases that they can still deliver in the modern age of metal.

Rating: 9/10

With AMORPHIS spending most of their touring cycle of 201 dedicated to the anniversary shows for Tales From The Thousand Lakes so this was really the first chance for fans to hear a setlist composed of classic tracks alongside material from the band’s latest record, Under The Red Cloud. With the band’s extensive back catalogue of 12 record, the setlist for the night contained a huge balance covering the band’s lengthy career, enabling AMORPHIS to flow across their respective styles effortlessly. With the first three songs of their set taken from the latest record (Under The Red Cloud, Sacrifice and Bad Blood), fans were immediately treated to new material and the band’s professionalism was at the highest level. Elsa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari kept the riffs flowing with lead play being both intricate and melodic whilst Jan Rechberger‘s drumming was kept at an all time high.

Through the melodic driven keys of Santeri Kallio adding an extra level of depth to AMORPHIS‘ atmospheric sound, the band were able to replicate their studio sound with ease. The backing keys to Dark Path were utterly gorgeous and the iconic tones of House of Sleep drove the band’s catchy chorus. Tomi Joutsen‘s vocal work has been a significant characteristic to the sound of AMORPHIS for years now and his performance in the live environment reflected his crucial importance to the overall sound. Balancing ferocious growls and intoxicating cleans effortlessly, Joutsen drove the hooks of the tracks with huge choruses enticing a rabid response from the packed crowd. By the time the encore of Death of a King, Silver Bride and The Smoke rocked the PA of Sound Control, AMORPHIS had left their mark in grand fashion; a remarkable, melodic and captivating live performance that reinforces the band at the summit of heavy metal in 2016.

Rating: 9/10