Review Summary: An amalgam of ideas mashed together into an album which just doesn't work as a whole.
When a band changes vocalists, it means one of two things. The band could either shrink to a fraction of what it used to be, or it could grow into something bigger than it had ever been before. It’s an interesting transition nonetheless for any band, because replacing a singer can alter your sound much more than if you replaced, say, a guitarist or drummer. So, when highly respected Finnish progressive/death/doom/folk metal band Amorphis decided to part ways with their long time vocalist Pasi Koskinen, the question of whether Amorphis would be the same without him began to be tossed around. However, through nothing more than simple word of mouth, his replacement Tomi Joutsen was found, and the band was put right back on track, continuing to shift gears toward melodic rock/metal like they had been before Pasi departed. As it turns out, Tomi was just the figure they needed to actually make this transition smoothly, utilizing his powerful clean singing to drive the band forward.
Their first album with Tomi on board, 2006’s Eclipse
, is an interesting release in the Amorphis timeline. It comes after 2003’s Far From The Sun
, which was received with a neutral attitude. It was as if Amorphis was trying to achieve too much with too little, attempting to re-hash ideas throughout the songs when in the end everything sounded like one big mess which nobody cared to clean up. This sense of lackluster songwriting is virtually gone on Eclipse
, but what happened was not something I think Amorphis intended. Eclipse
ended up as a melting pot of a variety of musical ideas, some good, some not so good. The flow of the album is marred by some tracks which seem rather boring, while others sound brilliant and mark a giant leap forward for Amorphis.
What’s good on the album ends up being absolutely amazing. The music itself is extremely mellow and very melodic, not nearly as dark and heavy as it had been way back on Tales From The Thousand Lakes
or The Karelian Isthmus
. The album has a upbeat feel to it, an interesting take on a band which is capable of being so dark and melancholic. The music reflects this change in attitude, with songs like “Born From Fire” featuring melodic leads which will be stuck in your head, regardless of whether you listen to the entire track or just a few seconds. Also apparent is the fact that a vast majority of songs on Eclipse
sound like ballads, with the brilliant “Under A Soil And Black Stone” taking a slower and more calm look at Amorphis’ music, with Tomi’s fantastic singing bearing the weight of the track, before the entire thing breaks open in the end with powerful drumming and an impressive guitar solo.
Singing is used a majority of the time, much like the past few Amorphis albums before Eclipse
. All in all, about 80% of the vocals on the album are sung, but that doesn’t hinder the power of the screamed vocals at all. “Perkele (The God Of Fire)” is, overall, the heaviest song on the album, being comprised mainly of deeper growled vocals and a ringing melodic guitar lead. On the other hand, however, “House Of Sleep” is entirely clean singing, which works fantastically. Fans of a lot of clean singing will be very pleased, as well as fans of growling, because both are performed with excellence .
However, the album falters in its central focus, or lack thereof. There are so many ideas flying around throughout this album that it is hard to get a grip on what exactly Amorphis were aiming for with Eclipse
. It may appear as if they wanted a calming, ballad-laden album which wants to remain very refined during its runtime, but only a few songs later that may change. Songs contain riffs which are different, but somehow manage to have the same sound. It may be the effects or the synths, but some riffs sound very similar to numerous others. It’s unclear at times whether Amorphis wants to make another Elegy
, another Tuonela
, or a new sound entirely. Amorphis’ next album Silent Waters
fixes this issue, but it is all too prevalent on Eclipse
When all is said and done, Eclipse
is an enjoyable listen which perhaps leaves the listener thinking it is worse than it actually is. Between such brilliant tracks as “Born From Fire”, “House Of Sleep”, and “Brother Moon”, a variety of songs vie for dominance but in the end come up as nothing more than filler. There are certainly a million ideas here which Amorphis can take and make a brilliant album out of, but as a whole, Eclipse
just doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean to overlook Eclipse
, because there are certainly a few songs which deserve to be heard by everyone, but don’t come along expecting something classic.