Several years back, in 2009 when I was struggling to embrace the world’s reality in both school and work, the path that my life had for me included an eye-opening event that gave me a very pleasant twist in my musical taste. It was a cold and windy day, September16, 2009 where I finally got to see a more than decent metal festival in my temporary hometown of Monterrey, Mexico. The lineup was short, but full of great talent, and one of the mysterious bands I had the pleasure to see was AMORPHIS, along with other favorites such as CHILDREN OF BODOM, SONATA ARCTICA and DORO.
I never imagined that AMORPHIS would steal my attention the way they did that night, and since then that’s one of the very few shows that I can still feel as if it was yesterday. For that, and other inspirational reasons, I dropped everything I was doing to check out their new disc Under the Red Cloud (out now, Nuclear Blast Records). The artwork by Valnoir Mortasonge is exceptional for a band like AMORPHIS, and producer Jens Bogren is a key element to the development of this album; you’ll find out when you listen to it. It feels like the record is one fifty-minute song, which is the exact concept of a perfect album that I had in mind.
“Under The Red Cloud” has an amazing introduction and chorus, to the point where I have to repeat the song if it gets interrupted by anything, “The Four Wise Ones” holds heavier tones, with more guttural vocals and is ideal for the hairy windmills that we find at live shows every now and then. “Bad Blood” also a great intro with no opportunity for you to stop headbanging. Although it’s a little slower than the previous two, it’s going to make you explode with its chorus. “The Skull” feels like an ancient song in some way, like some sort of long journey summarized in four minutes.
When you listen to the album up to this point, I hope you feel that the previous twenty minutes of your life have just been breathtaking by amazingly talented musicians. “Death of a King” is by far my favorite track on the record! I love the sitar and the song makes me feel like there’s suspense. The following song “Sacrifice” is also beautiful and it’s now in my “it’s-a-bad-day-not-a-bad-life” list. It’s the shortest song from the record, and perfect for the purpose that I assigned to it. “Dark Path” sounds very much like a song that I would play countless times to prepare a special dinner for myself (it really does feel like it). “Enemy at the Gates” is another slow song, but really good, it doesn’t sway from the heaviness of the album. “Tree of Ages” is another one that I love! The addition of wind instruments (courtesy of Chigrel Glanzmann of ELUVEITIE) is why I fall in love with folk metal all the time, and ever since I listened to this song, it’s been another one of my top without a doubt. “White Night” features Aleah Stanbridge with her beautiful vocals and is a great closer for this album.
Knowing that I will never forget the very first time I listened to AMORPHIS’ “House of Sleep” live, and now having ten additional songs, I haven’t been able to listen to anything else for the past two weeks because every song has something I love. Band members Tomi Joutsen (vocals), Tomi Joutsen (guitar), Esa Holopainen (guitar), Santeri Kallio (keyboards), Niclas Etelävuori (bass) and Jan Rechberger (drums) deserve an hour’s standing ovation for their excellent piece of art. You don’t know, you don’t know nothing yet, about what AMORPHIS has for you…Under the Red Cloud is a record for (music) lovers… see what I did here? Get this album and support European metal, the best in existence.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM