Amorphis: Under The Red Cloud

Veteran Finns strike a new high point.

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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.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.