Thursday, September 3, 2015

Amorphis : "Under the Red Cloud"

These guys have been hit or miss with me. I liked "Silent Waters" as they took a darker turn. Now they are back on a cloud of double bass making something more like prog-powered power-metal, but with the growled vocals replacing the Helloween yodels. Not to say they don't have clean vocals as they do and they are often too happy for me much like some of these guitar harmonies. The effects slather vocal passage on the second  song works and there is a slight folk metal inflection in the synths. "Bad Blood" finds them frolicking in waters closer to their country men Night Wish. They lock onto a more commercial death metal groove think ... Dark Tranquility like stomp and then bring in the vocal hook that soars in more like prog metal of yesteryear. There are similar elements to "the Skull" , but they strike me a s being better executed and having a more dynamic range to their melodic sensibility. There is an increasing folk vibe in the intervals both the vocals and synths choose.

"The Death of A King" gets off to a good start with more exotic scales and  a tribal pound in the drums before going into the more nu-metal meets folk metal vibe bands like Equilibrium dabble in.The staccato stomp meets the hooky vocals as they singer really fine tuned his knack for putting his voice in the most epic places , thought riding the fine line towards the cheese that if unchecked this kind of metal lends itself to. "Sacrifice" is much closer to power-metal, it's not symphonic like Night Wish, but cut from the same cloth, though the fact a male vocal is featured it gives it less dramatics and more rock leanings. You gotta hand it Tomi, his vocals are on point for what he is trying to do. When they use a piano sound it brings them even deeper into the fairy land of Night Wish, until the growl off sets it. The guitar finds some harder punches as they band tries to regain their edge. The Myspace metal vocal come in on the chorus of "Dark Path' which just isn't as dark as the title would suggest.

There is a classic metal chug that puts Amorphis next other heavy weights of the metal game like Dream Theater and Queensyrche on "Enemy of the Gates". The singer really begins to soar here, but the music is a shade darker  finding the band tapping into what made "Silent Waters" work so well. "Tree of Ages" doesn't grow too much and instead finds it's self more of a sapling hindered by the folk metal cliches it stumbles over and comes across more like filler.I'll skip the bonus tracks and say that " White Night" is the last song on the album. This one opens with female vocals, to bring more comparisons that already have arisen. The song is alright, it is not as focused as some of their more fine edged moments the bands gave us earlier.

Overall the bands is taking a step in an even more polished direction. Some of their more progressive elements are toned down in order to serve the songs. I would not say this is a death metal album by any stretch of the imagination. I'll give it an 8 as it  is generally well crafted and certainly well produced and finds the bands stepping up a tier to join their more legendary peers of the metal world.It goes without saying they are head and shoulders over Opeths jam band wanking , despite the power metal moments.

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