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Amorphis - Eclipse (Nuclear Blast Records)

By: David E. Gehlke

Back to the thousands lakes we go, riding the crest of those gorgeous, ethereal tones that made Tales… and Elegy the albums that will forever define Finnish metal. Glorious those days were, when Tomi Koivusaari’s growl shook the earth and Esa Holopainen’s guitar lines flowed like crisp river water. Those days should have never ended, but they did and lackluster albums like Am Universum and Far Away From The Sun ensued. And now along comes Eclipse, which could very well be the sweetest sounds the underground will hear all year.

Of first notice, the growls have returned, thanks to new singer Tomi Joutsen (ex Sinisthra), who handles himself quite well in the face of Pasi Koskinen’s departure. Joutsen’s clean vocal delivery is not as defined or as smooth as Koskinen’s, but is able to provide numerous memorable moments during ‘Born From Fire’ and ‘Perkele’. For those of you wondering, Joutsen’s delivery is a mixture of Koskinen and on brief moments, Ville from Sentenced.

Most of Eclipse could be described as a blend of Elegy’s crisp melodic output and Tuonela’s atmospheric weight. ‘Leaves Scar’, benefits from both Joutsen’s growl and emotional clean vocal delivery in the chorus section, while ‘The Smoke’ hits a home run with a folkish, flowing chorus section full of jangly guitar work. Hats off to Holopainen as well for bringing back the potent, dreamy guitar lines that were so prevelant to the success of Amorphis’ earlier albums.

The leadoff single, ‘House Of Sleep’ has a Sentenced-like feel to it, engaging in thick power chords, being something not terribly out of reach for the now-defunct Northernmost Killers. The final punch of both ‘Brother Moon’ and ‘Empty Opening’ retain an epic finality to them, with keyboardist Santeri Kallio pounding away with varied Hammond organ and keyboard tones, closing out Eclipse in grand fashion.

Not a bad track here, with Amorphis finding that small, empty space that a lot of former folk metal bands have abandoned. There is a rejuvenation going on, Amorphis have found the second-wind to their career, and frankly, this is a lot more exciting and prosperous than any of the other so-called ‘return to form’ albums we’ve heard of late. And my God, is this not just the most welcome surprise of ’06….

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