Amorphis‘ name comes from the English word, ‘amorphous’, which dictionary.com defines as “without a clearly defined shape or form…unclassifiable”. I wonder if the band realised just how appropriate this name would be when they chose it back in 1990. Since then they have done the rounds with death metal, progressive metal and folk metal, before finally settling on a combination of all three, rendering them amorphous to this day.
The Beginning of Times can best be described with the following analogy. Remember when you were a kid and logic dictated that you liked chocolate and you liked tuna and cucumber sandwiches and you liked tomato ketchup, so therefore you should like tuna-cucumber-chocolate-and-ketchup sandwiches? So you put them together only to find that it tasted awful? The Beginning of Times is just like that. The band have taken one big stewing pot and thrown all of their favourite things into it and it definitely shouldn’t work. Yet in this case, it really does.
From the melodic keyboards to the progressive guitar lines to the death metal growls and blastbeats, nothing seems out of place and every note sounds essential.
Album opener ‘Battle For Light’ begins with the ballet steps of the piano-voiced keyboard mimicking a folk melody before the whole band picks up the moderate pace and joins in, the vocals soaring over the top. Lead single, ‘You I Need’, has its tender moments before spreading its wings and billowing into a proud and triumphant chorus. It’s a complete juxtaposition to the descending notes of ‘Song of the Sage’ that scatter like a landslide beneath Tomi Joutsen’s roar, making the whole thing sound absolutely earth-shatteringly destructive.
Joutsen has the rare talent of managing to sound vulnerable, empowered and dangerously ferocious all within the space of one song. His rumbling growls and resonating melodies are by far the highlight of the album, the melancholic minor bellows full of hooks and utterly moving. I want him to hold me as I weep into his arms.
With the sheer amount of heart and feeling bursting from this record, it’s hard to believe that it’s actually a concept album about Finnish mythology. It sounds so personal and affected and completely vital. ‘Powerful’ barely begins to describe it. This is one of those albums that truly deserves the tag ‘epic’. And I don’t mean epic in the sense of the word as perverted and bastardised by miscreants of the English language. I mean really, truly, perfectly epic.