“Under The Red Cloud”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Amorphis have been plying their trade so smoothly and for so long that it’s easy to take them for granted. They are as steady as a Swiss watch with their output and their brand of melodic folk metal never wavers. So it is with “Under The Red Cloud”, which arrives right on time.

This new record delivers exactly what Amorphis fans have come to expect. You almost forget that this is the band who injected folk and progressive influences into death metal. I can’t think of anybody who was doing this before them. On “Under the Red Cloud”, we get that smooth mixture of heavy and melodic elements that we’re looking for. The title track begins with beautiful piano work until the crunchy guitars and the roars of singer Tomi Joutsen come stomping in. That’s kind of a metaphor for the whole album, but the songs all have little twists and turns that keep them for sounding the same. “Tree of Ages” starts with flute and probably the most obviously folky influence in the history of Amorphis. It almost sounds comical until it becomes one of the heavier songs. “Death of a King” has sitar and oriental melodies weaving in and out of the tune. “Enemy at the Gate” almost sounds like an out-take from “Tales From the Thousand Lakes” with the way it starts, but the vocals feature the more melodic side of Joutsen, who shows he’s equally adept at both styles.

It is really the Amorphis we’ve heard since the “Eclipse” album. The keys seem a bit more prominent this time around, but the slick arrangements and dichotomy between folk-prog and crunch-metal remains intact. When it’s done this well and you’re the originator of the style, why rock the boat? If you’re not an Amorphis fan, this won’t change your mind, but if you’ve never heard them before, “Under The Red Cloud” is a great place to start.