Released by: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: May 18th, 2018
Tomi Joutsen | Vocals
Esa Holopainen | Guitar
Tomi Koivusaari | Guitar
Olli-Pekka Laine| Bass
Santeri Kallio | Keyboards
Jan Rechberger | Drums
01. The Bee
02. Message In The Amber
03. Daughter Of Hate
04. The Golden Elk
05. Wrong Direction
06. Heart Of The Giant
07. We Accursed
08. Grain Of Sand
09. Amongst Stars
10. Pyres On The Coast
Back in 2015, Amorphis released one of the best albums of the year with Under the Red Cloud. Now, three years later, it looks as though their overall thirteenth album, Queen of Time (out now via Nuclear Blast) will have the same fate. These Finnish melodic progressive metallers painted their notorious landscape when their second studio album 1994’s Tales From The Thousand Lakes arrived. Since then, they have flawlessly experimented on different musical avenues as they have been one of the few forgiving bands to evolve.
Queen of Time is one ambitious album that shares a tale about the rise and fall of civilization. One could compare it to stories from lost civilizations in history such as Atlantis, or others can interpret it as the downfall of our present-day reality that doomsday could be upon us.
The group wrote their latest effort directly after the Under the Red Cloud touring cycle completed. Now, some may call it insane, or expect the next record to feel more forced than inventive, but this is Amorphis we are talking about. While having that last minute burst of energy or even feeling overly exhausted, they spent three months to create a near-perfect album and it could be with the help from their “seventh” member, Jens Bogren.
These Finnish metal titans recruited a handful of guest musicians such as Chrigel Glanzmann (Eluveitie) on pipes, laryngeal singer Albert Kuvezin, saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby and Anneke van Giersbergen as well as bringing in a real orchestra and choir while maintaining their own uniqueness. For instance, the lyrics by Pekka Kainulainen’s has surpassed a deep poetic landscape as it moves into the cosmic territory about powers people once believed in along with the aforementioned rise and fall of civilizations. Additionally, it is the first to hear original bassist Olli-Pekka Laine since 1999’s Tuonela as he replaced longtime bassist Niclas Etelävuori after 17 years.
The album opens with “The Bee,” as it includes the laryngeal vocals as well as female-operatic tones. There’s an excessive amount of synths before the natural progressive melodies unfold. Eventually, the heaviness cuts in as it begins to describe the tale between light and dark. “Message in the Amber” has more of a folklore and uplifting introduction as chaos eventually takes over. However, the variety of instrumentation makes it an innovative tune. Things move towards a classic-esque Amorphis with “Daughter of Hate” as it aggression takes the lead.
Once again, the mood changes with “The Golden Elk” as the choir introduces the track adding a somewhat spiritual ambiance to the mix, which soon softens to a more romantic-like tune. However, there is an ample amount of diversity as it escalates towards merciless riffs as well as a tranquil instrumental break with the use of real strings. Essentially, there’s a little bit of everything in this song.
Moving to one of the highlights of the album with “Wrong Direction.” It’s a strong and melodic song as it reminds us how everything has turned upside down. Continuing with the day of reckoning theme, “Heart of the Giant” fades in with a light guitar riff as it picks up a neo-classical style mixed with coarse vocals, harsh beats and later in the track, there’s a fierce progressive guitar riff.
The second half of the album continues to shift with “We Accursed.” Despite its folklore-like opening, it spirals into a dark reality on being cursed and losing your life. Musically, this subject moves with a mix between an uplifting melody combined with morbid beats. Everything changes with the next “Grain of Sand,” as it begins with a Western-like atmosphere as though you are watching a classic Clint Eastwood flick. However, this doesn’t stay long as it rapidly evolves towards a keyboard-driven tune mixed with demonic-like vocals.
Finally, “Amongst Stars,” arguably the best song on the album opens as the vocals between Tomi Joutsen and guest singer Anneke make a powerful arrangement. It changes the album’s tone in a way that would make you want to hear more. However, “Pyres On The Coast” is the perfect way to conclude the record as it moves with a catchy and hypnotic ending.
Overall, there’s a lot more that can be said with Queen of Time but, the best thing you can do is listen to it for yourself. This is by far, one inventive and genius album.
Written By, Zenae D. Zukowski