3 June 2018

Amorphis - Queen of Time

I’ve been awaiting this record for an awfully long time.  Ever since the release of their last record, the amazing Under the Red Cloud, I’ve been craving new Amorphis music.  At last, it's finally arrived!  Queen of Time is the thirteenth studio album from Amorphis, which was recorded at Fascination Street Studios.  Once again, they have worked with producer Jens Borgen, releasing the album via Nuclear Blast. This is also the first album since 1994’s Tales from the Thousand Lakes to feature the four original members of Amorphis, following the return of Olli-Pekka Laine.   That reason alone has burdened the album with expectation.  The fact it's following the majestic Under the Red Cloud, it was always going to be an album that would be scrutinised within an inch of its life. For me, I'm finally receiving my Amorphis fix.

My first impression of Queen of Time is one of progress.  Amorphis have moved further down a road which has taken them further from their Death Metal roots.  The work started on Under the Red Clouds has been built upon and further explored.  Their progressive sound has been given the spotlight on this one and rightly so.  Another thing I love about this record is the vocals of Tomi Joutsen.  His ability to pick the right sound for each song is song is so refreshing.  Over the years, too many acts have used the wrong vocals in the wrong context.  Amorphis on Queen of Time have their vocal mix spot on.  When a scream or a growl is required, they use the correct vocal for that moment.  When a clean vocal is needed, you’re serenaded with a voice that would tempt the Gods to lay down and focus on the song.  This is best shown on “The Golden Elk”, they use both styles to great effect and it sounds beautiful.

My second impression of Queen of Time is one of size.  Everything on here is large scale, nothing is toned down and everything's larger than life.  This is not to say it’s pompous or overblown, but this is not a small-scale record.  If you’re wanting a quick metal fix, then you need to leave that at the door.  This album has orchestras, Spanish guitars, choirs and enough metal to jump-start a small volcano.  Everything about this album is huge, the skies and heavens are the limits.  Take “Amongst Stars”, my personal favourite moment on the album. Featuring the talents of Anneke van Giersbergen, this song is a metal anthem in the waiting.  It contains one of the best hooks in metal this year, it's been on my mind since I first heard it and it’s not going away any time soon.  “Heart of the Giant” is also another fantastic moment, one that showcases the sense of grandeur and storytelling that makes Amorphis so special.

With each song, you’re guided through a story.  Each one is a little island that can stand on its own accord but they also work perfectly within the constraints of an album.  Take “The Golden Elk”, this was released prior to the album which fits seamlessly into the album.  But it was also a great pick to perk the interest of the fans, a perfect stand-alone track.  What I also like about Queen of Time is the fact that the best tracks have been on the album, they've not released them as singles or promos prior to the unveiling of Queen of Time.  Keeping those gems for the album was a wise choice.  For me, this shows the care and attention that Amorphis have put into this record.  Queen of Time is full of potential metal anthems, stand-alone moments of joy.  But by keeping those tracks on the record, it’ll also be seen as an album that some will consider is best listened to in its entirety.

Because this is such a long album, you're either going to fully invest in it or walk away.  Queen of Time is not something to put it on for ease or to have on in the background.  You’re either going to be committed or you’re out the door.  To be honest, if you step over this album, you’ll be missing one of the best European Metal acts ever.  Everything about this album is amazing, from the opening moments of “The Bee” to the closing of “Pyres on the Coast”, there is no wasted note, no waste beat, no wasted sound.  This is an album when each band member has a moment to shine, a moment in the sun and it's a jaw dropping experience. I was staggeringly impressed with Under the Red Cloud, I’m just as impressed with Queen of Time.  This is another contender for the album of the year!

10 out of ten - This is proof there is a deity

Top track - Amongst Stars

You can purchase Queen of Time on Amazon here.

You can visit the Amorphis website here.

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