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Rate the Amorphis albums

Discussion in 'Amorphis (Unofficial)' started by requiem, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. requiem

    requiem I bleed sir, but not killed

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    I've been talking to people about which Amorphis album is the best etc, especially since 'Under the Red Cloud' is mine and many others' favourite albums of last year. I actually just posted this in another thread on the Gen Metal Discussion and realise it'd be really interesting to see what people here think and how they rate each of the albums.

    I know there are variants of this thread already in existence, but none that actually does this as far as I can tell. And I know it's slow around here, but I'm prepared to wait years if necessary haha.

    Here's how I rate the Amorphis full-lengths in order of release:

    The Karelian Isthmus (1992): 7/10
    Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994): 10/10
    Black Winter Day EP (1995): 10/10
    Elegy (1996): 10/10
    My Kantele EP (1997): 8/10
    Tuonela (1999): 5/10
    Am Universum (2001): 6/10
    Far from the Sun (2003): 6/10
    Eclipse (2006): 9.5/10 --------> Tomi Joutsen joins
    Silent Waters (2007): 8.5/10
    Skyforger (2009): 9/10
    The Beginning of Times (2011): 7/10
    Circle (2013): 9.5/10
    Under the Red Cloud (2015): 9.5/10
     
    #1 requiem, Jan 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
  2. tuonelan

    tuonelan Mostly Harmless

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    Hope it's not too disappointing that I'm not putting numbers to my list. That's too much like grading assignments and I hate grading. In fact I'm avoiding grading right now by answering this thread. :kickass:

    Think of this as the order in which I would re-add them to my collection if Perkele torched my house (ties listed in chronological order):

    Under the Red Cloud (2015)

    Skyforger (2009)

    Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994) / My Kantele EP (1997) / Tuonela (1999) / Silent Waters (2007)

    Elegy (1996) / Eclipse (2006)

    The Karelian Isthmus (1992) / The Beginning of Times (2011) / Circle (2013)

    Am Universum (2001) / Far from the Sun (2003)
     
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  3. requiem

    requiem I bleed sir, but not killed

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    That's a pretty clever way to rank them actually. It's interesting that you put 'Tuonela' quite high and 'Am Universum' and 'Far from the Sun' last. For me there isn't a great deal of difference between those albums. 'Circle' gets a bit of the harsh treatment here too.

    I forgot the My Kantele EP and the Black Winter Day EP (if we're going to do EPs.) I'll edit my original post.
     
  4. tuonelan

    tuonelan Mostly Harmless

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    I think Circle is quite good, and that The Beginning of Times gets a bit of a bad rap (several really great songs on the album). Both would be among my favorite albums if the other albums did not exist. It's really unfair to them to compare them to other Amorphis albums when an average Amorphis album is better than many bands best work.

    Tuonela is similar in overall sound to Am Universum and Far from the Sun, but I like the songs much better. (The Way, Tuonela, Greed, Divinity, Withered, Rusty Moon, Summer's End are all really strong.) Only Alone makes it onto many of my playlists off of Am Universum. As for Far from the Sun, it's not bad, I just think it suffers from a lack of energy in the recording. That album more than any of their others sounds more like work than play to my ears.

    The band seems to agree with my prejudices here. Tuonela features more often in their live setlists than do the other two.
     
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  5. requiem

    requiem I bleed sir, but not killed

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    Yeah I remember watching an interview from maybe 'Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes' where they say that they were very lost during 'Far From the Sun'. I agree with you entirely about 'Am Universum'. 'Alone' is a great song but I can't say much for the other tracks on that album. I just remember when 'Tuonela' was first released I was so disappointed with the style they were playing, after the magic of 'Elegy'. I couldn't believe they would willingly throw away all those exciting melodies etc.

    I blame Paradise Lost. All the bands copied Paradise Lost in the early 90s, and it all comes back to Paradise Lost again when they released 'One Second' in 1997. At that point virtually no bands were playing this 'mature' adult rock that stripped back the theatrics and instead dealt with a more conservative, restrained sound and song structures. 'One Second' comes out, then look what happened: Moonspell release 'Sin/Pecado' with its electronics and steady rock approach after the amazing gothic 'Irreligious', Theatre of Tragedy put out 'Musique' with its industrial beeps and squeaks, Amorphis release 'Tuonela' after 'Elegy', My Dying Bride release the experimental '34.788%.... Complete', Tiamat release 'Skeleton Skeletron'. Over and over again the major bands in the gothic/doom/dark end of metal strip things back and 'grow up' in the late 90s after 'One Second'. And with the exception of Theatre of Tragedy, ever single one of those bands are now back playing epic dark metal anthems.

    So Tuonela is a pretty good album, but even 'The Way' sounds flat to me these days.

    By the way I also need to go back and give 'The Beginning of Times' another spin. It's been a while.
     
  6. Luoto

    Luoto Member

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    Paradise Lost might have been a some kind of subconscious influence on the change, but there are other things to consider. Not only were they bored with death metal in general, but they also got ripped off by almost every side imaginable - even tour management. This is a big reason why Kim Rantala went off the radar, and the band ended up on a time-out. They were royally frustrated.

    Who knows what would've happened if they had all the deserved royalties back then. Maybe it wouldn't have taken them 10 years to write an album like Eclipse...
     
  7. tuonelan

    tuonelan Mostly Harmless

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    I don't know if they would have ever managed an album like Eclipse with Pasi out front. All other things aside, Pasi just doesn't have the power or the range to do what Tomi does. Put on "Same Flesh" and try to imagine Pasi doing the vocals on it.

    There again, were Pasi doing the album the chances are that he'd have wanted to do the lyrics as well and not wanted a return to any Kalevala material, so the lyrics would also have changed to match Pasi's style of singing, which has shorter lines, a bias towards pentatonic scales, and lines with far less sustain.

    As far as the other stylistic changes, I imagine that once Esa and Tomi realized that they could stretch beyond death metal to include folk music they started to want to pull in all their other influences as well, especially stuff like Kingston Wall and Camel. But as their musical style expanded, Pasi was also taking on a more expanded role as the frontman and so you end up with all these expansive influences being filtered by Pasi's more blackened/gore sensibilities and capabilities. Sometimes those sorts of clashes of style work to create something bigger, but with each album that Amorphis did it seems that this particular clash was frustrating them rather than empowering them. At least that's how I've always imagined it being.
     
  8. requiem

    requiem I bleed sir, but not killed

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    You think they changed their sound and mellowed out because they weren't getting the royalties they deserved? Not quite sure how that works as an idea, but I suppose it's possible. But as I pointed out, everyone was mellowing out - it was the zeitgeist of European dark metal at the time.

    I'm surprised that Pasi stuck with that vocal style considering how great his growls can be. I'm listening to Amorphis on one hand with Pasi telephoning his vocals in more or less, then listening to Shape of Despair's 'Angels of Distress' and being blown away. There's a weird lack of connection going on there.

    It's easy to lay all the credit to the post 'Eclipse' material on Tomi J - and he definitely deserves a lot of credit, but Santeri Kallio deserves a lot of it as well. The tracks that he writes are just stunning and generally my favourites from 'Under the Red Cloud'.
     
  9. requiem

    requiem I bleed sir, but not killed

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    No one does!
     
  10. Luoto

    Luoto Member

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    I never said it was the only factor, did I? Tuonela would probably sound different had there been a stronger motivator to keep some of their core sound intact, even if death metal was mostly absent. Esa's lead guitar isn't as pronounced on that record as it is on Elegy, Pasi's role is bigger instead. That's how it was produced, apparently.
     
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  11. tuonelan

    tuonelan Mostly Harmless

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    I found a couple of interviews about that shift from Far from the Sun to Eclipse pretty informative. One is with Tomi K and the other with Sande. They both discuss how Eclipse got written and how it evolved in the shift from Virgin to Nuclear Blast and from Pasi to Tomi J. Tomi says a bit more about the label side of things and Sande a bit more about the way that the music shifted with a new singer.

    I also remember an interview in which someone said that Silent Waters was written with Tomi J in mind from the very beginning and how that influenced the overall shape of the song, knowing that they could go for a more epic and melodic sound. Sande talks about rewriting the stuff from Eclipse in this interview, but at least half of the ideas on Eclipse were demoed while Pasi was still in the band. It's kinda fun to play through the album and imagine what the songs would have sounded like with Pasi's singing and his Black Metal Jim Morrison lyrics in place of Tomi and the Kalevala. The songs would have a totally different feel and would lose that connection with the Tales/Elegy era.
     
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  12. Eurynome

    Eurynome Kukkahattutäti

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    "Because" is said too much, but according to the recent biography it did play an indirect role in case of Am Universum: the guys took as much liberty as they pleased to toy around with stuff and see what happened, since they were not exactly motivated to provide Relapse with another immortal metal classic. They never went so far as to deliberately make music that wouldn't sell, but the attitude at the time was very much in the vein of, "we're free to experiment with whatever comes to mind, because financially there's nothing to lose anyway."

    Of course Amorphis still do what they want musically, but their songwriting has become much more focused since Tomi J joined the band and all of them became full-time musicians.
     
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  13. requiem

    requiem I bleed sir, but not killed

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    That's another thing that disappointed me when 'Tuonela' first came out (I seem to have a lot of resentment for this album hahahaha, but it's not as bad as I'm probably making it seem), was that the lyrics went from the Kanteletar to Pasi's own stuff. Undoubtedly much of the original allure I felt for Amorphis back when I was about 15 just after 'Tales from the Thousand Lakes' came out was that the lyrics from the Kalevala just blew me away. An amazing idea. Then they became more like a normal band for me, with their own lyrics and stripped back rock sound.

    I have to say, though, even though the lyrics on the last few albums have been written by a modern mortal, Pekka Kainulainen, they are excellent. Very poetic and in the same style as the Kalevala/Kantetar texts. Hard to imagine 'Eclipse' with Pasi's lyrics. Thank god 'Eclipse' didn't have Pasi on it, bascially, as much as I love the guy and his other work (Shape of Despair/Ajattara in particular).
     
  14. Luoto

    Luoto Member

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    As for album ratings, here's my contribution (out of 10 points). No EP's included.

    The Karelian Isthmus: 7
    Tales from the Thousand Lakes:
    Elegy: 9
    Tuonela: 7
    Am Universum:
    Far from the Sun: 6
    Eclipse: 9+
    Silent Waters: 8
    Skyforger: 9
    The Beginning of Times:
    Circle: 8
    Under the Red Cloud: 10
     
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  15. tuonelan

    tuonelan Mostly Harmless

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    One other thing I will say... I'm tempted to dump Circle into Garage Band, speed it up a few BPM and re-evaluate it. I've always thought the songs were good, but it always seems just a little too slow. I remember the interviews in which the guys said that Bogren pressed them to speed up their songs on Under the Red Cloud and how it made them more challenging and fun to play as a result, and it left me wondering what could have been had Tägtgren done the same on Circle.
     
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  16. requiem

    requiem I bleed sir, but not killed

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    Pretty sensible ratings if you ask me. I think we see things more or less the same way.
     
  17. Brell

    Brell Member

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    Never tried rating the discography of any band in this way before. I can't think of a more deserving band for my first time! :D

    The Karelian Isthmus: 6
    Tales from the Thousand Lakes: 8
    Elegy: 10
    Tuonela: 7
    Am Universum: 7
    Far from the Sun: 3
    Eclipse: 9
    Silent Waters: 7
    Skyforger: 10
    The Beginning of Times: 7
    Circle: 8
    Under the Red Cloud: 10
     

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