Label: Nuclear Blast/Warner
Three similar bands: Dark Tranquillity/In Flames/Hypocrisy
Rating: HHHHHHH (6/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm
1. Shades of Gray
2. Mission
3. The Wanderer
4. Narrow Path
5. Hopeless Days
6. Nightbird's Song
7. Into the Abyss
8. Enchanted by the Moon
9. A New Day
10. Dead Man's Dream (bonus track)

Tomi Joutsen (Lead vocals)
Esa Holopainen (Guitar)
Tomi Koivusaari (Guitar)
Santeri Kallio (Keyboards)
Niclas Etelävuori (Bass)
Jan Rechberger (Drums)

The Karelian Isthmus (1993)
Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994)
Elegy (1996)
Tuonela (1999)
Story - 10th Anniversary (2000)
Am Universum (2001)
Chapters (CD+DVD) (2003)
Far from the sun (2003)
Eclipse (2006)
Silent Waters (2007)
Skyforger (2009)
The Beginning Of Times (2011)


Peter Tägtgren (Production, mixing)
Tom Bates (Cover art)
recorded at Petrax Studio in Hollola, Finland
and 5K Studios in Helsinki, Finland

Released 2013-04-19
Reviewed 2013-04-09


With their three last albums, Amorphis has an average score of 6.67 out of seven on (one six and two sevens). This is by far the highest average score a band with multiple reviews has ever had on Hallowed and Amorphis is also the only band on Hallowed with two (or more) full point scores since we became a webzine six years ago (Star One also have two if you count the reviews in the printed magazine). If this doesn't make you understand just how great these last three albums are then I don't really know what to say. But one thing that I always point out when it comes to new albums is that past merits are completely insignificant to the new release and the same goes Amorphis.

'Circle' is the eleventh studio album Amorphis records and the fifth released with this current line-up. It is, however, the first album since these members got together that's released without any relation to the Kalevala-stories and also the first this line-up makes with Peter Tägtgren as producer. That makes for a few changes, despite the fact that the line-up is the same, and you could actually hear the difference quite easily. It's not that you have something to complain about, but if I have anything negative to say about the past three albums it would be that they all sound pretty alike but on this album Amorphis has clearly made a step in another direction - but without leaving their trademark sound.

One of the most obvious things that's different on this album is how vocalist Tomi Joutsen sings because he actually makes these guttural cave-like growls sometimes and this is something I've never heard from Joutsen before. And it's not only this, his normal tone of voice is also slightly different here compared to before all though not too different. The production is another thing that separates this from at least the last two albums because this one is noticeable heavier produced. The sound is still as clear and clean as it's been lately but the mixing has let the heavy drumming get closer to the front and that makes this album harder and more powerful than we've heard Amorphis in a long time. 'Eclipse' was in the vein of this but I think it's been as long as 'Elegy' and even the albums before that since Amorphis was this heavy.

The guitars, on the other hand, seems to have taken a step backwards when it comes to creating those fantastic screaming guitars that's been so enjoyable lately. It's not that the enjoyment is gone, they've only left it more or less completely to the keyboards to do it on 'Circle' and instead of making us cross-eyed and wet in the underwear the guitars has taken a more forward going role that, along with the rhythm section, makes the music going forward. I have a tendency to move along with the music as soon as I hear music I like, regardless wether I sit, stand or lying down and as soon as I hear 'Circle' I really can't be still. That, as well as the fact that the album sounds good even through the horrible speakers in my Macbook, is a sure sign of this album being really good. Amorphis hasn't lost any of the things that made the past albums so great, I could hear that almost immediately and now - some double figure of repeats later - I'm even more sure about that.

The keyboards is the leading instrument on 'Circle' and they've been given the honour of solely creating those goose bumpy sounds that's characterised this band lately. Song after song keeps giving you these bumps like a clock and it's the strongest in songs like Mission, Nightbirds Song and Enchanted By The Moon as they let Kallio take a few notes with almost nothing in the background. Then they have a track like Narrow Path with some happy flutes playing and it wouldn't surprice me if this was the next single of the album as it has a really hit-and sing-a-long-friendly chorus as well as that typical single sound with a chorus that's repeated more and more the further in to the song you get and otherwise sounds pretty much like the singles Amorphis chosen lately. The first single of the album, however, is the next song - Hopeless Days - and I think that's a bit different compared to the songs Amorphis picked as singles lately and also quite different overall, if you don't count that calm part with paino about 3 1/2 minute in to the song.

'Circle' really is an album that goes the full circle. It have plenty of the hard stuff, plenty of the calmer things, plenty of all the things that's characterized Amorphis lately as well as plenty of new ideas. Amorphis has been a bit all over the hard rock genre in their career and done a little bit of everything. The last albums, however, have been pretty similar to each other and therefore it's good to hear them try something a bit different and even better to hear them make it this good! They've taken the best out of what they've done lately, put everything in a blender - mixed it up really well and got a result that sounds just as good as what we've learned to expect from this band but in a fresh new way. More varied than before, more creative and even more exciting than I've heard them for a while now. Definitely one of the best albums we'll hear in 2013!



läs på svenska