Amorphis – Tuonela

Amorphis are one of the premier Finish metal bands around. Once a death metal band they gradually shifted their extreme metal roots in exchange for a more rock/stoner/progressive approach, culminating in albums like Elegy (1996), Tuonela (1999) and Am Universum (2001). Tuonela is often regarded as the finest album with former singer Pasi Koskinen. Let’s see if this record still sounds fresh twelve years after its initial release.

The first three songs on Tuonela pretty much tell the tale of what one can expect of this album. Powerful and intelligently written songs with great hooks in combination with bluesy guitar work and subtle hints to seventies prog rock. The real treat are Pasi Koskinen’s signature vocals, giving The Way and Morning Star a slight touch of melancholy as only bands from Nothern regions of Europe can deliver. Divinity and Summer’s End are very much in the same vein.

Nightfall, Greed and Withered show a folk music oriented side of Amorphis with their Middle Eastern and Arabic flourishes. Besides the occasional growl and some heavier songs like Shining and the aforementioned Summer’s End there are almost no traces of the band’s extreme metal past. Some fans may lament this, but I couldn’t care less.

This album biggest asset is the near perfect balance between melancholy, memorable songs and the total absence of any form of technical powerplay. Every break, guitar solo or vocal line feels like it simply belongs there. There is no such thing as perfection, however the song material on Tuonela comes very close.

This album is still Amorphis finest moment in my book. Tuonela has the songs and the right kind of melancholic atmosphere to get me through these long and dark Winter days. This is simply a classic record.

written by Raymond Westland

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