Monday, September 28, 2015

Amorphis - Under the Red Cloud

Let me cut right to the chase, I've been listening to Amorphis' thirteenth full length, Under the Red Cloud, non stop since I got my grubby little paws on it. I've listened to it at work a lot, I've listened to it with headphones on, etc. I know this album quite well and the reason that it's resonated so well with me from my first listen is that it is, simply put, the epitome of the perfect album. Yeah, I know that I'm quite liberal with giving scores that are perfect but for good reason...and this album is no exception. This is a band of amazing musicians and songwriters creating an album that just fits together in perfect harmony from the opening note to the closing.

This album is the culmination of everything that this band has done since the arrival of front man Tomi Joutsen. His growls are deep and harsh while his flawless baritone cleans have become the signature for this band. But a front man alone can not carry an entire band and it's the songs that this amazing front man gets to sing and how he uses his voice to create the atmosphere for the songs is what sets this band apart from the rest. These songs are just flawless and flow from one to another making this an album that must be listened to in full to properly feel the atmosphere. From the opening piano notes of the title track you know that this is a special album. As the song flows to some acoustic guitars with a clean solo mixed in over the piano the song picks up momentum leading to opening riffs where the melody is reminiscent of folk melodies. The majority of this song is sung in Joutsen's amazing cleans with a chorus that is just infectious. This will not be the only time I mention the choruses on this album because every song has these amazing choruses.

My favorite song on this album is "Bad Blood." It begins with some cool sounding keys playing a sort of folk melody leading to this simple but really cool main riff. Joutsen shows his growling skills here but the fucking chorus just gives me chills. His cleans are so full of emotion and feeling you can't help but feel this music while listening. There's a cool bridge in the song that has a single note lead melody over Joutsen's cleans that is absolutely beautiful. This is goosebump shit here. "Death of a King" is another one of these amazing songs that infuse folk elements into it by both modern means such as keys and traditional means such as a guest appearance by Chigrel Glanzmann of Eluveitie. The verse is growled over the folk elements leading to a nice bridge that flows to another one of those choruses full of emotion and atmosphere. The solo on this is very melodic and it helps the flow of the song instead of being just a solo. Just another example of creating a song where all the pieces fit perfectly.

The lyrical content on a good bit of this album is quite spiritual with a couple of references to "the skull of a bear" in a spiritual or something of an ancient religious nature. The opener and title track mentions this as well as "The Skull." "Sacrifice" is another that has a deeper spiritual feeling, and even being probably the most rock oriented song on this album it still reflects the sheer brilliance of this album with it's deep spiritual meaning and amazing musicianship. "Tree of Ages" also has a spiritual feel to it with more of the flutes and traditional folk melodies but still having some serious riffs in there. This is another song that has that infectious chorus and amazing solo. "White Night" is the perfect ending to an absolutely brilliant album. It begins melodic but with an epic feeling to it. Soft female vocals begin the verse with Joutsen's growls coming in. Once again, the chorus is the star of the show here. This song just feels like it should end this album and I'm not sure why I get that feeling and I'm sure that was the artists intention.

I have the digipak version which has two bonus songs, "Come The Spring" and the amazing "Winter's Sleep." The latter is a monster of a song that shows all of the elements of this amazing band. In it's 25 year existence this band really hasn't released anything that could be considered a bad album. However, they seem to have finally found a sound that truly compliments this truly talented band. Everything they've ever done has led up to this album. I'm even going to go out on a limb here and say that could easily be album of the year. This album is a musical journey where you feel the music instead of just listening...and that is why this is the perfect album.


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