Review Summary: A very enchanting evening with Amorphis.
There is something about early Amorphis that transports me back to my childhood and my mid-teen years when I was discovering their music through Tuonela
. On the same package with their 1999 release, was the My Kantele
EP which made me fall in love even more with the band but for some reason, I never managed to connect significantly with their post-Tuonela
material. This makes An Evening with Friends at Huvila
a challenging live album as all of its tracks, with the exception of “My Kantele”, come from Am Universum
Amorphis’ latest live release is in essence the first of two 1-hour sets performed at Huvila-teltta on August 27, 2016 for an arts festival. The second set consisted of Under the Red Cloud
on its entirety, while the first one comprised of songs from Am Universum
, Far from the Sun
, Silent Waters
Opening track “Enigma” sets the mood perfectly as we are treated with beautiful acoustic melodies which dominate almost the first half of the set. An emotional acoustic rendition of “Far from the Sun” follows, which is surprising due to its sheer presence on the setlist as it hasn’t been performed live by the band since 2005. This part of the album has an atmosphere that resembles more to that of a gathering of friends around a campfire, which essentially makes the music more personal. Amorphis are no longer a melodeath act but rather a band of bards. The use of instruments like the saxophone, the piano and the jouhikko (Finnish lyra) provide a sense of mystique and elegance which works perfectly on this acoustic setting.
After “My Kantele”, the band proceeds to the metal part of their performance by using “Silver Bride” as a link between the two parts of their set. “Sampo” and “Alone” work brilliantly together and are extended and enhanced by additional instrumental parts. However, since this is an evening with friends, they close their performance with a magical collaboration with Anneke van Giersbergen which is arguably the highlight of the LP as her voice is combined perfectly with Tomi’s and she gives a fresh breath of air to “Her Alone”.
The production is very fitting as each instrument can be heard clearly but it still feels like a live album. In addition, listening Tomi perform some mid-era Amorphis adds value to what is a very strong release which will probably satisfy even those who prefer the band’s first era.