Review Summary: No swan of any color here.
There’s no doubt that the criticism Skyforger
was met with was warranted. Coming off their third album with Tomi Joutsen, Amorphis was put to the test by challenging not only one of the best albums of their modern era, but arguably one of their best studio albums period. Alas that was an album that moved Amorphis from the melodic death metal genre to a more progressive rock forefront that disappointed a great number of their long time fans. With The Beginning of Times
, we are met with a refreshed and refocused Amorphis; something we should’ve received after the paramount album, Silent Waters
One of the most important changes to Amorphis’ new album compared to their last is the change in vocal range of lead singer Tomi Joutsen. On Skyforger
, the band lost most of its signature sound by simply lightening their sound to make it more accessible. While it pleased the new fans, it also produced a sound that was unlike the sound that made Silent Waters
the strongest of the bands back catalog. With the new album and the backtracking to their old sound, Joutsen was able mix in the death growls that made Amorphis exciting to listen to. No longer do the guitars dominate the songs, but rather we hear the signature keyboards from Kallio which made the song “I Of Crimson Blood” so memorable.
The key for Amorphis with this album was finding an even mix of the elements that made them the quality music act they are known as today. In the opener, “Battle For Light” is a perfect example of that, with its light piano interlude, occasional riffs and Joutsen’s death growls. While not every song has to contain death growls or heavy riffs to achieve success, an absence of them is too hard of a hole to fill. Bits and pieces of The Beginning of Times
sound, in certain points, like they are recycled from the Silent Waters
era. While that’s not a bad thing, it just shows that maybe Amorphis is finally starting to run out of gas after 10 studio albums. With the exception of four to six songs, most of them run together and have a hard time differentiating themselves from one another. The only exception as far as the eye can see, sits near the middle at number eight; “Soothsayer”, the only melo-death focused song on the album, display Tomi’s death growls, which sadly have not gained any range since his last studio performance.
The way you can compare Amorphis’ last two albums is the same way you would do so with jelly and jam, they’re both different, but good. With Times
they’ve gone back to the heavier sound they were known for, but still haven’t been able to craft songs genuinely unique enough to sound different to their other material. Tomi got the memo that his growls were missed, Kallio is playing his keyboard more often and they’ve written heavier riffs, but the end result is just another Amorphis album after two years of waiting and not surprisingly it doesn’t contend with that elusive pink swan.