How does a band follow up perfection? Do they ride the wave of their predecessor by continuing the current course or do they move into a different direction? Amorphis achieved perfection with 2015’s Under the Red Cloud; an album that struck a chord with me from the very first listen. I literally listen to that album constantly for a month before reviewing it. That album still continues to fill me with awe. So, again, I must ask myself, how do they follow up perfection? The answer is quite simple, Queen of Time. Not only are they riding the wave of it’s predecessor but they’ve expanded on that sound to create another masterpiece.
To put this band in a box and try to give them a genre tag is absolutely impossible at this point. They play a folk inspired melodic death metal mixed with classic progressive rock, but even that description doesn’t cover it all. And although Queen of Time did not resonate with me the same way Under the Red Cloud did; there is no lack of incredible music on this album. To put it plainly, this is a musical journey that takes the best of what they’ve been leading up to ever since Eclipse in 2006. Tomi Joutsen’s vocals do play a huge part in their current sound with his killer death growls and his amazing baritone cleans. But it’s the songs behind the voice that make modern Amorphis such an incredible force.
“The Bee” kicks things off in a way only Amorphis can. Mystical sounding keyboards, male throat singing, and female vocals lead into this huge song. Joutsen’s death growls over an eastern folk sounding melody in the verse riff flows right into the bridge where his clean vocals immediately take you to another place. This song is a prime example of what makes this band so unique and incredible. The chorus is huge and melodic adding another layer to this already amazing song. Already I’m hooked. “Message in Amber” follows it up by being a slight contrast to the opener. Not as bombastic at first but starting things off more melodic, this song builds to the massive chorus. The bridge features female choir vocals adding another layer to this already amazing song.
And when you think that Amorphis has done all that they can to stand out, they add a really tasteful saxophone solo in the middle of “Daughter of Hate.” Now some people might be turned off by adding this element to a metal song but Amorphis transcends just being a metal band. Yes this album has metal riffs aplenty, but adding these outside elements to their sound is done so in a way that only adds to the musical journey that this band takes you on. In fact, I find it a challenge to find a favorite song on this album because each song is just as strong as the others. “Wrong Direction” is a melodic from beginning to end with little use of death growls. “Grain of Sand” is heavy in it’s riffing and death growls but allows melody to enter into the song. “Heart of the Giant” is one of those huge songs that just screams epic. “The Golden Elk” is almost as good as “Bad Blood,” which happens to be my favorite song from Under the Red Cloud.
I would love for Amorphis to continue on this current course. This album surprised me because I really did not think they could release an album as good their previous album, but they did. I know there will be some out there that think they reached their peak with Tales from the Thousand Lakes and even some who thinks their debut is their only good album, etc. I say to those people to open up their minds and listen to this album. You will find elements from every era of this incredible band’s existence in each of these songs. To create perfection twice in a row is something to be said.