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Amorphis - Circle

by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein / Tuoksu Holopainen at 15 April 2013, 8:55 PM


This is the continuance of the conceptual impression about the mysticism and survival, the return of the despondent hero, following a catastrophe, and the life changing moment that turns into a wonder as he finds his true potential to change his fate. In this part of the journey there is a circle, describe as the gathering point of the elders, the wise man of the tribe, an example of the old parliament where the true power of the decision is bread. Confining both perceptions into one, the hero might have reached the end of his excursion and became one of the wise men, a member of the circle, or did he? Maybe I missed that part or I tried to distinguish the way I see fit because it seems to right? Only the lyrics and music will reveal the answer. Here I stand in front of a new AMORPHIS experience, following the name of "Circle", via Nuclear Blast Records, a voyage to the realms of myths and legends, examining the old ethnicities of the Finnish culture and its philosophies. Above the core there is the music that has been developing for more than two decades, attempting to find a niche onwards to the quest of perfection. This is my AMORPHIS. From an extreme Death / Doom Metal into an elegant, simply majestic, proclamation of intent to become spiritual, authentic, progressed and graceful, this group came through a long way. Of course that there will always be the old ancestries, the hoary ligneous spikes that will never leave their consciousness, yet caressed in order to incorporate so much under a single distinction, those will remain integral and even crucial for the further existence of this band's music.

Though nearly every work of AMORPHIS is a result of ingenuity, since the arrival of the lead vocalist, Tomi Joutsen, in the midst of 2005, I was mostly caught by the web of the band's 2009's "Skyforger". Probably one of the utmost influential albums of that year, and my personal favored. Though have been matured for years, since the emergence of "Elegy", AMORPHIS demonstrated the true meaning of musical magnanimity, drama and a whole lot of emotions, paying respects to their long, ethnic and mythical, tenacity. I was captivated by their motivation and determination to be something completely different of what has been going on around them. Heading forward to "Circle", I was delighted to find out that AMORPHIS remained steadfast with their fortitude for soul searching to create the next marvel. Frankly that same notion didn't seem to serve them well with the earlier album, "The Beginning Of Times" that couldn't compete with the giant before it, at least from my point of view. However, "Circle" is their "back in the saddle" standpoint, in comparison to the former.

While still keeping their attention to details, AMORPHIS sounded less extreme, a bit more advanced, fewer soloing, but in the same time way catchier and memorable than before, whether with the smooth choruses, melodic licks and rhythm guitaring. I wouldn't claim that they were touched by the spirit of Pop, but there seems to be a shard of obviousness, notwithstanding, it is a worthy entrapment. I deemed "Hopeless Days", one of the band's single releases out of this communion, as their best work of this entire setting. Somewhat reminding the sweet plunges of "Skyforger", it kept me intrigued and impressed by the enchanting music and melancholic, yet with a glimpse of hope, vocals of Joutsen. As far as the riffing goes, I wasn't surprised as if it has been waiting to come out all this time, and now it did. "Narrow Path" and "A New Day", I observed them as sheer epics, even if they ran out of me pretty quick, maybe duo their articulacy and smoothness. The latter being highly harmonious, channeling the unending talents. "Shades Of Gray", the opening outlet of the release, also one of the displayed web singles, is one of the fewer extreme moments, also one of the heaviest, of the release, only on paper, due to the fact that it felt so natural, even blissful. In short, it might not be "Skyforger", but this album sure delivers and with that same AMORPHIS stylishness.


"Circle" is the 11th opus by the Finnish Melodic Metal masters AMORPHIS. My review is practically nothing different than Esa Holopainen's commentary.

It's the kind of album that you would play over and over after listening to it for the first time, epecially that it's relatively short. "Shades Of Grey", previously played live as "Mehtä" and released as a lyric video,  is an excellent opening with an intriguing oriental relish, absolutely one of my top favorites. This is the kind of track that keeps reminding you of how awesome Tomi Joutsen's vocals are. "Mission" is a bombastic track with a Folk Metal vibe, intensive keyboards and a catchy chorus. "The Wanderer" is a vocal-driven song and one of my top favorites too. "Narrowpath" is the most folkish track, with flutes and an airy melody line. "Hopeless Days" was released as the first single off  "Circle". It has a powerful chorus and great guitars in the latter half of it. "Nightbird's Song" is the darkest track, "almost Black Metal" in Holopainen's words, but has a breathtakingly-contrasting flute interlude. Jousten's growling is more outstanding than ever. "Into The Abyss" is another top favorite; keyboard driven, very melodic, mellow and catchy. It's easy to fall in love with this one. "Enchanted by The Moon" has a gloomier Doom atmosphere and is generally heavier than most other tracks. The enchantement of "Circle" goes on till the last seconds of  "New Day", an atmospherecially mesmerising and serene closure.

Overall, it's a beautiful masterpiece. Indeed, Finns do it better!

4 Star Rating

1. Shades of Gray
2. Mission
3. The Wanderer
4. Narrow Path
5. Hopeless Days
6. Nightbird's Song
7. Into The Abyss
8. Enchanted By The Moon
9. A New Day
Tomi Joutsen - Vocals
Esa Holopainen – Lead Guitars
Tomi Koivusaari – Rhythm Guitars
Niclas Etelävuori – Bass / Vocals
Santeri Kallio - Keyboards
Jan Rechberger - Drums
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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Edited 23 March 2023

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