Amorphis - Tuonela
Relapse Records
Melodic Metal with Progressive/Melodeath influences
10 songs (46:48)
Release year: 1999
Amorphis, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Khelek
Archive review

When I first started getting into metal in the early 2000s, Amorphis was one of the first bands I found that I really enjoyed. Tuonela contains some of the tracks that helped shape my music listening tastes and opened the door to me checking out other excellent gothic/melodic metal acts like Katatonia and Paradise Lost. This album is certainly one of the best the band made after changing their style from one that was more death metal based to more of a melodic and progressive influenced sound. On this album they bring in a lot of different elements, blending folk, death metal, even a touch of gothic. Few bands can do something like this and really make a great album, which is exactly what Amorphis achieved.

The album begins with the epic The Way...a song I've heard more times than I can count. The chorus of this song is beautiful and melodic, with the band concentrating on creating a serene yet somewhat melancholy atmosphere with layered guitar work and the clean vocals of Pasi Koskinen. These same themes run throughout the album, and I think it really makes the listener feel like they’re going on a journey. Morning Star picks up the pace a bit, beginning with quicker guitars and some rougher vocals from Koskinen, though he never uses his death growls here. Tuonela incorporates an atmosphere of melancholy more than most of the songs up to this point, an element that Amorphis continues throughout this album without getting too depressing, something I have always liked about their music. I enjoy the folk and other uncommon instrumental elements that are actually used quite extensively on this album, though not always very noticeably. Rusty Moon is one song where the flute is used a lot, and I think it fits the song quite well, though I can understand why some might find it distracting. Greed incorporates a lot more aggression, something that was present in the band's earlier albums, yet also has the chorus with clean vocals. The guitar riffs are also death metal oriented, giving the song a sense of violence not often heard on this album. Interestingly it actually starts out with an Indian inspired sound. I would say there is a bit too much going on in this song, though I do like the aggression present here. Divinity is my second favorite song from this album, and one of the first songs I heard by the band that really got me into them. As in the first track on the album, this song focuses on a calm, serene atmosphere yet at the same time using heavy guitar riffs that are catchy and memorable. The chorus in particular is quite unforgettable to me, with the death growls accenting it. The last song I want to mention is the final track Summer's End. This is a calm song that once again creates a serene atmosphere and plays the album out very nicely with soft guitars and some of the folk elements while still incorporating the undercurrent of melancholy.

I have heard people say some disparaging things about this album and to this day I do not understand why. Perhaps because of the style change, or the use of some more progressive elements like the saxophone (though not as much as on Am Universum or Far From The Sun). Personally I find these things to be interesting. Admittedly the album can tend to lack direction at times, or go in too many directions at once, but not in such a way that it completely throws the listener off. The diversity on this album is one of the things I like most. Every song is distinct and I am able to listen to the entire album without getting bored. While I am sure many do not enjoy this album as much as I do, in my opinion it is one of the band's best albums with Pasi on vocals.

Killing Songs :
All are pretty good; personal favorites are The Way, Divinity, Tuonela, Summer's End
Khelek quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Amorphis that we have reviewed:
Amorphis - Circle reviewed by Khelek and quoted 90 / 100
Amorphis - The Beginning Of Times reviewed by Khelek and quoted 90 / 100
Amorphis - Skyforger reviewed by Khelek and quoted 95 / 100
Amorphis - Silent Waters reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Amorphis - Eclipse reviewed by Al and quoted 91 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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