Amorphis: The Circle

Finnish proggers return to their melo-death roots

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There aren’t many bands whose 11th studio album could be regarded as one of their strongest but then Amorphis aren’t exactly a conventional metal band. After 10 years of working with Marco Hietala, these proggy Finns have enlisted the talent of über- producer Peter Tägtgren on The Circle and the results are astounding.

Whereas Marco’s production pushed things in a more Nightwish-style direction, the Pain frontman has taken them back to their death metal roots with a much heavier vibe that almost brings their sound full circle. Admittedly, there’s nothing on here quite as extreme as their earliest material, but there’s a noticeable darker edge despite all those supremely catchy choruses.

Mixing up Eastern scales on opener Shades Of Grey, classic singalong melodies on Mission and the jaunty Narrowpath, Amorphis have carved themselves a fresher, cleaner sound. With conceptual lyrics conjured up again by local artist and storyteller Pekka Kainulainen and plenty of gung-ho Viking metal attitude, The Circle is a simply stellar release.

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.