Amorphis - Circle
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Metal with Doom/Folk influences
10 songs (46:22)
Release year: 2013
Amorphis, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Khelek
Album of the month

What is there to say about Amorphis anymore? Founding members Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari have been making great music for over 20 years now, constantly evolving, changing their sound, but all the while staying true to their vision of what great melodic metal should be, whether it be closer to death, folk, progressive, even gothic.. After longtime vocalist Pasi Koskinen left the band in 2005, it could have been all over for Amorphis, but instead they immediately hired vocalist Tomi Joutsen who brought new energy and power to their sound. Their next album, Eclipse, quickly reached #1 on the Finnish music charts. And they didn't stop there; over the next 7 years every album besides one got to #1 in their home country. Circle is the group's eleventh studio album, and once again it is clear that these guys are still going strong. This album is certainly heavier and a bit more subdued than the last couple efforts, but it contains more than enough of the tried and true Amorphis sound to keep things interesting. It will perhaps appeal more to fans who like the darker, more gothic side of their sound, and for me that is certainly not a bad thing.

The first track, Shades of Gray, delivers some very heavy riffs and at first listen it sounds like the band has gone back in a time a bit, hearkening back to Tales from the Thousand Lakes. The growls of Joutsen sound great as usual backed by the chugging riffs. Then of course the chorus opens into a sweeping, melodic set of guitar notes and clean vocals. This is a pattern that Amorphis have used to great effect on virtually ever album with Joutsen as the frontman. It does sound a bit samey, but not much of a concern at this point. Mission uses keyboards and clean guitar to create an atmospheric introduction. Soon a familiar melodic guitar lead comes in with mid-paced riffs. Once again, not the most interesting song, but very listenable. I really like the folk sound of Narrow Path. It's catchy and accessible (reminds me of Eluveitie), yet still retains that metal, in-your-face quality throughout. I did find myself wishing that the chorus didn't slow the song down so much, I feel like it could've been a real headbanger if it was quicker. All the same, it's very enjoyable. Hopeless Days is another heavy, mid-paced track. Now of course this song is not without its melodic solos, but they are not the focus. Into The Abyss actually gets closer to the melody-focused, almost-power-metal sound, but it's one of the few on this album. Enchanted By The Moon and A New Day are basically the definition of doomy, gothic Amorphis tracks, yet there are passages that contain folk elements, and at times they come close to being symphonic, but don't quite go there. The bonus track Dead Man's Dream is a fantastic song. Here is the speed and aggression that I would've liked to hear a bit more of on the rest of the album, and I'm very happy that they included this masterful collection of pummeling riffs and the growls/screams of Joutsen's nod to death metal.

What else can be said about Amorphis? Fans know that they are one of the most consistent producers of great music, and Circle is just one more solid addition to an already extremely impressive catalog. It definitely slows things down, but it's still wholly Amorphis. These guys know their niche; there is no other band in the world making music that sounds like this. They are a career metal band that knows what their fans want to hear, and the quality of music they want to deliver. They nail it every time. Would I have minded if this album was a bit more progressive/thought-provoking? No, but that by no means makes it a bad album, and the subtleties and attention to detail are still there. I'm used to Amorphis creating albums that force me to pay attention, but with this one I found it could actually work as background music, interesting and solid background music, but not something that demands to be listened to as I felt The Beginning of Times and, to a larger extent, Skyforger did. When it comes right down to it I've given Circle at least ten spins now, and I'm still listening. That is success.

Killing Songs :
Shades of Gray, Narrow Path, A New Day, Dead Man's Dream
Khelek quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Amorphis that we have reviewed:
Amorphis - The Beginning Of Times reviewed by Khelek and quoted 90 / 100
Amorphis - Tuonela reviewed by Khelek and quoted 89 / 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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