"The Beginning Of Times"

By Lord Randall

Merriam-Webster defines “amorphous” as “having no definite form”, yet 
beginning with 2006’s "Eclipse" and the acquisition of Tomi Joutsen, the former
death-metal-gone-prog/folk deity known as AMORPHIS has pretty much kept to 
the same pattern, for better or worse. From being practically a genre unto themselves,they’ve become reliable for using the occasional rumbling grunt, albeit only as background or accent to color their melodic metal. "The Beginning Of Times" definitely ups the ante in the death metal vocal style, but does nothing to detract from the fact that the AMORPHIS of the past 5 years has written tunes so catchy, so sugary sweet they’ve got diabetic warnings posted on the albums. Can both exist in the world of AMORPHIS and not come across as gimmicky?

"The Beginning Of Times" proves that it can – for the most part. A concept
album dealing with Finnish folk hero Vainamoinen, the opener ‘Battle For Light’ sets the stage in fine form. Equal parts epic and edgy, the early years of the band begin to shine through from the start. ‘Mermaid’ contains an ideal chorus, and the short (3:25)‘My Enemy’ ratchets up the aggression, dropping still another patented saccharine  AMORPHIS chorus into a song that could’ve worked easily on "Tales From The Thousand Lakes". Things drop a bit during the chosen first single ‘You I Need’ because, while a beautiful song, it fails to represent "The Beginning Of Times" as a whole. I understand we’re dealing with a concept album here, and this can make choosing a single difficult if not impossible, but ‘Mermaid’ would’ve been a better pick to these ears.

’Reformation’ carries on in ‘You I Need’ mode, soothing and contemplative. An issue I’ve heard from a handful of acquaintances thus far regarding TBOT is exactly this; just as soon as AMORPHIS seems ready to whip into a 2 to 3-song blitz influenced by their old-school style, they get all latter-day SENTENCED on us, more melancholy than massive. I, for one, miss the fuck out of SENTENCED in all its forms, and welcome their countrymen taking up the mantle, intentionally or not. The doom/death train rumbles by on ‘Soothsayer’, female background vocals adding an air of the ethereal to the procession, while ‘Crack In The Stone’ stumbles, almost too simple in chordings for its own good. A decent tune, yes, but one begins to see where an album clocking in at nearly an hour’s length - and adhering to a singular lyrical tale at that – might leave the boys weary of ideas. Thankfully, the ending title track finds AMORPHIS back on their game,Finnish-ing (I couldn’t resist) "The Beginning Of Times" on as high a note as is possible for the quintet.

If you’re still pissed at your little sister for losing your original slimline-packaged copy of "Privilege Of Evil", and feel AMORPHIS died after "Tales From The Thousand Lakes", this album is not for you. However, if you’ve been into the wares they’ve been peddling over the past handful of albums, consider "The Beginning Of Times" a worthy purchase.