Amorphis
Queen of Time


4.5
superb

Review

by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (120 Reviews)
May 20th, 2018 | 85 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Marinating the foundation.

Amorphis have been on a bit of a roll ever since Tomi Joutsen joined the band in 2006. His first two outings (Eclipse and Silent Waters) could be considered stakes in a then-new foundation with each subsequent release showing the band stretch into a little something different than before. Things got more interesting with Under the Red Cloud, which brought an attractive contrast of grit with folk elements that occasionally brought the band’s earlier works to mind. Unlike the re-recordings Amorphis did for Magic & Mayhem a few years prior, however, their 2015 LP held the benefit of feeling like a proper, natural callback born out of instinct. The results were positively infectious, leading many to hold it among the band’s best efforts. This also meant that Under the Red Cloud would be a mighty tall order to follow, and if pre-release interviews were any indication, Amorphis were set to present more orchestral elements than before, something that several metal bands run with in a complete, unbridled frenzy. Fortunately, time has taught Amorphis a thing or two about the art of tact, as their latest endeavor, Queen of Time, demonstrates with positively dazzling results.

So what exactly have Amorphis done with their sound to be just as worthy of the reverence they earned from Under the Red Cloud" Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’ve stuck to what made that album work so well and have expanded upon its elements. This means an abundant supply of Finnish folklore makes its way into every song in some way, shape or form. Lyrically, this is par for the course, as Amorphis have been utterly unflinching in depicting or otherwise paying homage to their homeland. The real moments of curiosity then make their way in the music itself, the means by which the band infuse their land of heritage with a genre of music that, at first glance, doesn’t seem like the most natural companion. Both Circle and Under the Red Cloud showed a growing gravitation for heavy moments, namely in the vocal department, resulting in an irresistible power dynamic that is only further enhanced by the subtle oriental touches. Queen of Time takes the concept even further, making use of grand pianos, hammond organs, Latin lyrics, throat singing and saxophones, all while sliding even further from the clean, glossy sounding end of the spectrum. Where many of the band’s previous works treated these additional instruments like seasonings to decorate a meal, Queen of Time treats them like means to marinate the core sound. This is to say that Amorphis have absolutely maintained their musical identity, but this time the added flavors feel more imbued into the sound itself.

Those who’ve already heard the album’s first single, “The Bee,” will know how Queen of Time opens up. Truth be told, it’s initially difficult to know what to expect, since the mesh of Tomi’s trademark vocals (both harsh and clean) during the chorus and verses with the strangely disco-like keyboard throws a lot of potential directions up in the air. Yet if “The Bee” is specifically meant to accomplish anything as the album opener, it’s to serve up a little listener’s shock so that the surprises to come don’t throw you even more off-guard. This is because Queen of Time is relatively light on safe material, with the second single, “Wrong Direction,” doing for this album what “Sacrifice” did for Under the Red Cloud: being an accessible appetizer that ultimately serves as a moment of breathing room when consuming the album from start to finish. One of the more striking tracks, “Daughter of Hate,” features a combination of elements that demonstrate just how far Amorphis have come over the course of 12 years; a mildly ominous first verse followed by Tomi belting out some ear-tingling shrieks for the chorus, only to be followed by the aforementioned saxophone and, later on, a choir chant and some spoken Finnish words for good measure. That may seem like a lot to take in, even for nearly six-and-a-half-minute song, but Amorphis make each transition easy to follow and generally avoid getting impulsive with the elements. Not every moment is sized up to perfection, however, be it the Titanic-esque flutes on “Wrong Direction” or the wobbly keyboard solo on “Heart of the Giant,” but these are ultimately brief points of distraction at worst, and are hardly indicative of the staggering quality found throughout Queen of Time.

If anything, Amorphis have opened up a gate of expanded curiosity with their 13th studio album. They seldom, if ever, go off the deep end with any element of their music, yet the level of composure maintained in the face of heightened influence leaves one feeling nothing if not pensive for the future. In any case, Queen of Time marks itself as yet another moment of triumph from a band that shows no signs of stopping, least of all with regards to growth. It stands as a reinforced statement on Amorphis’ steadfast nature for consistency in their ongoing search for new lakes to drink from, a search that has taken them on a path ripe with intrigue and reassurance. And like their previous best efforts, Queen of Time delicately nurtures these qualities so that they may flourish with vibrancy.



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user ratings (380)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Gameofmetal EMERITUS (3)
Energetic and grandiose Finnish melodeath marred by an absurdly slow start....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Still juggling between 4 and 4.5 for the score. For now, I'll leave the review score at 4.5 since it reads quite positively, but I'll keep my rating at 4.

alamo
May 19th 2018


1448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

the bee movie but its an amorphis album

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2018


9653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Insta end of year lists here.

EvoHavok
May 20th 2018


7692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^Indeed.

Sweet review, Xeno.

Egarran
May 20th 2018


11523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Obviously the best album for at least a decade, in any genre.

Digging: Tomb Mold - Planetary Clairvoyance

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

No need to be so modest.

Willie
Moderator
May 20th 2018


17623 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nice review. This is definitely the best Tomi Joutsen-era release, but I have a feeling it's also their best release ever. Definitely the closest they've got to actual progressive death metal since Elegy.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2018


16295 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So this is good? Nice! I was looking forward to it and the posi vibes warm my dead heart.

Digging: Lingua Ignota - Caligula

Egarran
May 20th 2018


11523 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As Sputnik was down I read reviews of this on other sites. Yeah it felt dirty af, but everybody agrees this is in the all-time top 3 of everything.



When he growls SUNKEN! in Message in the Amber, it sounds like FUCK 'EM!

I like that.

Toondude10
May 20th 2018


13900 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

fuck yeah this album rules. 'Daughter of Hate' is such an incredible song, arguably one of they best they've ever done imo.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@Willie: Still trying to decide whether I'd put this above the last album, one thing I will say for certain is that this is Tomi's best vocal performance. Super excited to see them and Dark Tranquillity a second time in October.



@Dewinged: If you enjoyed their last album then there's no reason you shouldn't enjoy this.



@Toon: It is a great song, but I honestly have a particularly soft spot for "Grain of Sand."

Toondude10
May 20th 2018


13900 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Super excited to see them and Dark Tranquillity a second time in October."



lucky, which venue?

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Kelsey Theater in West Palm Beach, FL. This is actually going to be the closest concert to home I'll have been to since seeing Weird Al a couple years ago. Moonspell and Omnium Gatherum are part of the tour too.

Toondude10
May 20th 2018


13900 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

nice



And it looks like that they ARE playing at Worcester, Mass. Hmmmmmm....



Ticket's aren't on sale atm though which is a bit of a bummer.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

That's weird, is it part of the same tour? I got my ticket over a month ago...

Toondude10
May 20th 2018


13900 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

not sure, they haven't really posted that much information on it. I can wait though, it's not until October. From what I understand is that it was a last minute addition.

MO
May 20th 2018


22622 Comments


Colour me curious

Willie
Moderator
May 20th 2018


17623 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I think that same show is coming through San Diego. I might go to that one.

RustCohle
May 20th 2018


317 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is good but a bit too cheesy for me.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'd hate to know what you think of power metal then.



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