It’s time for a new Amorphis album once again, their eleventh (!) in twenty one years since debut ”The Karelian Isthmus” in 1992, something that shows that the Finnish six-piece from capital Helsinki are always there every two years more or less. Truth is that they had a bumpy ride in the beginning of the ’00s decade with two very experimental albums that made them lose a lot of fans (”Am Universum” in 2001 and ”Far From The Sun” in 2003). I still like them after ten years but I’m sure that if they hadn’t Tomi Joutsen on vocals, things might become much worse for them in the following years.

The shorty rasta-haired frontman gave new life to Amorphis since his first release with them, the marvellous ”Eclipse” album of 2006 (which is still the best album they’ve done the last…fourteen years) and gave them a strong push to continue sounding traditional. The flexibility of his voice from amazing growls to clean ethereal parts is really something else and he can claim the biggest part of the later success of the band. Four albums after ”Eclipse” and seven years later, the band manages to dare a change in their sound done right at the crucial moment, as their sound started recycling itself.

The three albums following ”Eclipse” had more or less the same elements and the band sounded dangerously repeating, the material wasn’t bad at all, but album by album something felt like missing (I personally believe that the last four albums were getting a little lower in worth one after the other). With Peter Tagtgren from Hypocrisy on the production this time, the sound gets heavier, harsher and stronger and the possibility of some repeat gets well hidden behind the excellent work of the Swede console mastermind. The only problem is that this time the first half of the album is way too better than the second, creating an unequal album in the end.

Starting off with the great ”Shades Of Gray”, Joutsen screams his guts out and offers a great opener. The traditional Amorphis melodies that make their fans smile are present on ”Mission”, ”The Wanderer” and ”Narrowpath”, while ”Hopeless Days” is the first single of the album and many have liked it a lot so far. The second half of the album offers tracks you feel they don’t fit that well with the aforementioned ones and you feel like you’ve heard them before a lot of times, not only by Amorphis but also the bands heavily influenced by them (Barren Earth, Insomnium, Before The Dawn, Swallow The Sun and many more).

The album balances to the more positive side in the end, clearly because of the change of sound, but on the other hand releasing an album every two years might become a trap for them. There are no surprises to be waited in the near future (unless they prove me a liar). They still have samples of inspiration and unlike other greater bands they rivaled with (Paradise Lost, Tiamat and some others), they remain on a very decent level of creation. I think it’s time for them to do a three or four year break and redefine their approach of material. Maybe the title of the album can become prophetic. They’ve done full circle with this sound, let’s see the future. Until then, another good but not so great.

Track List Line Up
01. Shades of Gray
02. Mission
03. The Wanderer
04. Narrowpath
05. Hopeless Days
06. Nightbird’s Song
07. Into the Abyss
08. Enchanted By the Moon
09. A New Day
10. Dead Man’s Dream (Bonus Track)
Tomi Joutsen – Vocals
Esa Holopainen – Guitars (lead)
Tomi Koivusaari – Guitars (rhythm)
Niclas Etelävuori – Bass
Santeri Kallio – Keyboards
Jan Rechberger – Drums