Oddly undervalued, Finland’s Amorphis have done more than most to combine progressive values with folk melodies and metal aggression.
And this is perhaps the band’s finest album since the landmark Tales From The Thousand Lakes two decades ago. From the opening piano passages on the title track, provided by Santeri Kallio, through to the delicate guitar patterns weaved by Esa Holopainen on Death Of A King and the joyous jaunt around Tree Of Ages, the band have a cohesive, irresistible timbre. This has a lot more to do with their prog inclinations than anything else. At times they bring to mind late-70s Jethro Tull, as on Enemy At The Gates, while The Skull, for all its thrusting passion, has a structure redolent of Marillion. The only irksome element is their continued use of growling vocals, which really add nothing to the style. It’s as if they feel compelled to drop these in because of tradition. Tomi Joutsen’s cleaner style is a lot more effective. The album concludes on a high with White Night, which sees the band embracing their strengths, as a unified force of progressive eeriness, folksy dischord and metal strikes. Powerfully moving.