Amorphis released their new album “Queen Of Time” on May 16th. After listening a few times, I can say that it has a brilliant mix of heavy and melodic. I personally think this album has a little something for everyone. It's not too over the top that it pushes away the more classic fans, but its aggressive enough for those who prefer a newer approach to metal. Its not crazy with leads but not overly simplified on rhythm, and the lyrics are incredibly story driven, which is never a bad thing if done well. The songs on this album are longer than average, I mention that because you either love it, hate it, or don't care.
Overall I would like to say that the scream vocals were well done and the cleans were a very nice contrast and just as well done. The playing with the instruments was nice and tight. If it was there, you heard it, and without it sounding muddy.
I will do a song run down and go through some things on each song that stuck out to me as a musician, producer, and engineer, and hopefully give you enough for you to go out and get your own copy.
Track One: The Bee
I can't express how much I liked the message of the song. Tomi Joutsen, the vocalist, says that the inspiration comes from the bee (obviously). He goes on to say the song is about how the smallest thing, can change everything. This sings to me like no matter how small you feel, even you can have a huge impact. Who doesn't need a bit of a pick me up now and then. I think the biggest highlight of this song is the lyrics. They really drive he point and make you feel that this little black and yellow striped creature plays a massive roll (don't get me wrong, they do). With lyrics such as “They build their castles in the heads of kings,” that link you with the message. Other than the lyrics, the structure of the song is very good. They don't dwell on parts too long instrumental wise, and move quickly and seamlessly through the song, making it feel very fluid.
Track Two: Message In Amber
The way this song starts is great. It comes out of the gate with a very folk-like vibe, and keeps it fairly steadily through out. There's not a lot that stood out, but the structure made the whole song for me. There was moments of intensity where the song really picked up, and moments of rest where the song relaxed and let you breath. While this is present through the album, I think this song made the best use of it.
Track Three: Daughter Of Hate
I think this may be my favorite track on the album. It has the same Intensity and rest structure as the rest, but it's done in a very aggressive and intense way. During the softer parts there's a chuggy, palm muted riff that makes the overall tone of the song very dark, driving the point into the lyrics. Near the end they switch it up in the bridge section, I won't spoil it, but I will say it was a nice contrast. One of the big selling points was that they made use of what sound to me like some sort of wind instrument that, to me, sounds like a saxophone.
Track Four: The Golden Elk
This song stuck out on the album in a strange way. It takes a more rock vibe in metal form. Like putting your peanut butter and jelly on toast instead of bread. There's a nice acoustic solo in this one, which was pretty refreshing. Other than that the song seems to be par for the course for Amorphis, with the structure and lyrics and such.
Track Five: Wrong Direction
If you lined up thirteen cans of Pepsi and replaced one with a can of Mountain Dew Code Red, the Code Red would be this song. Sound wise it's pretty similar, However, the content is way different. The lyrics don't seem to be really telling a story, this seems like a song more about making a wrong choice or going against your better judgment.
Track Six: Heart Of A Giant
The song comes in pretty strong with an orchestral feel that leads right into a small break and then to the verse. I will say I wasn't completely impressed with the leads, but just cause its not my of tea, doesn't mean it's not yours. Remember pinkies out! Other than that the song is very spacious, it doesn't really hit you too hard with anything. I kind of wish there was something more of a pickup, but there is a really nice solo that sounds pretty unique!
Track seven: We Accursed
The flutes at the beginning gave me goose bumps, and they follow it up with the perfect drop. The lead guitar follows what the flute played and continues it over. This song is mostly chill compared to the rest, but its still got a bit of intensity. Another really nice solo between keys and guitar. There are some folk-ish vibes in some parts too which is a plus for me, compliments the flow of the song rather nicely.
Track Eight: Grain Of Sand
This song brings us back into the intensity. It's still a bit slower, but you feel the riff on this. There are really nice interactions between the clean and harsh vocals in this one. I think the keys on this track are my favorite on the album, so well done and incorporated.
Track Nine: Amongst The Stars
Two words. Female Vocals. Anneke Van Giersbergen Does an amazing job on this track. Sorry, Amorphis, I think Imma give this one to Anneke! Her voice compliments this track more than you're prepared for, and it's so unique. The harsh vocals aren't as prominent in this track, which I think gives a nice rest for those that may not be the biggest fan of screaming vocals. Maybe this could be the song to edge you into the band?
Track Ten: Pyres On The Coast
So this one has a depressed sort of undertone to it. The verse is spacious and they bring it in and fill it out on the chorus. Other than that it seems very par for the course with Amorphis. Well put together and well performed. Okay so the bonus tracks are going to be looked at separately from the main album, but I will include them into the general thoughts section.
Track Eleven: As Mountains Crumble (Bonus Track)
This track was interesting, it reminded me a little bit of the band Europe. I think it was the keys, but even the guitar had this classic feel to them, was not disappointing. This was an easy listen. It hypes you a little on the chorus and bridge, but it still has a relaxed aura to it that I can't really explain, guess that means you'll have to go listen for yourself... well go on, I'll wait... Listen to it? What I tell ya! (Promise I won't do that again.)
Track twelve: Brother and Sister (Bonus Track)
Another pretty chill track, and I don't hate it. But this time, it has this epic galloping undertone, carries the song very nicely from start to finish. The keys do some amazing things to this song and they're not even super prominent.
Track Thirteen: Honeyflow (Japan Bonus Track)
Now everywhere I found it to listen said Japan bonus, so I don't know if it's only available on a Japanese release, or what. But I can say this song is up beat. Probably the most upbeat on the album, and it carries well.
I can recommend this band and this album with the bonus tracks. I felt like it did get dull as you listen through the album, Maybe they could have added another little surprise or spread them out more, but that didn't kill my enjoyment of it too much. Pick it up and check it out for yourself. It was a great listen and the stories they tell are interesting, the instruments are well played the lyrics are well written, and the production is great.
Till next time I hope you rock this album hard and thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on it. I will see you, in the next review!