"Under the Red Cloud"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. Under the Red Cloud
02. The Four Wise Ones
03. Bad Blood
04. The Skull
05. Death of a King
06. Sacrifice
07. Dark Path
08. Enemy at the Gates
09. Tree of Ages
10. White Night
11. Come the Spring (bonus track)
12. Winter's Sleep (bonus track)

RATING: 8/10

If there's one band that has run a confusing though prolific course, it's AMORPHIS. You're either down with the stylistic changes they've made since "The Karelian Isthmus" and "Tales from the Thousand Lakes" (by many fans' counts, the band's best works) or you're not. AMORPHIS has proven to be a fearless group; one that has emerged from a curious drifting from death metal to pure rock on "Tuonela" and "Far From the Sun" to progressive metal from 2006's "Eclipse" on forward. On the band's twelfth album, "Under the Red Cloud", a little something from each stage of their career manifests. This creates a peculiar, largely rock-driven affair with numerous extracurricular shakes to give it flair.

Fans of Tomi Joutsen's growls will be happy with this album — they're more prominent throughout — even while the band plays games utilizing all the styles they've dabbled with over time. The ENSLAVED-ish "The Four Wise Ones" is one of the heaviest songs AMORPHIS has recorded in recent years, even considering the random folk flutes and psychedelic washes. These compliment Tomi Joutsen's cleans, however, his hard vocals dominate the mostly aggressive track. "Bad Blood" is choked full of rock-dominated riffs by Esa Holpainen and Tomi Koivusaari on the verses, which set-up a less forceful, harmonious chorus where Joutsen's woofs surrender to aloof cleans.

Those who dug 1996's "Elegy" where AMORPHIS took its first steps towards becoming a progressive metal act will be all over "The Skull". Rock riffs, organs, synths and folk swings are but a few components of "The Skull", which changes moods on a drop, yet in satisfying way. The piano-guided breakdown is a classy touch. As if AMORPHIS hasn't already done enough tinkering, stand by for the sitar and pipe-splashed "Death of a King", where the band turns a Renaissance festival into a plucky rock pageant.

The conventional "Sacrifice" keeps the rock plugs humming as one of the more muscular songs on "Under the Red Cloud", but be on the lookout for brief Celtic and wah segues along the way. "Dark Path" is somewhat heavier (mainly due to Tomi Joutsen's ralphing and Jan Rechberger's double hammer on the verses), but the ultimate destination is a tuneful goth metal romp with choruses even the HIM crew would be pleased to own.

AMORPHIS throws another of a zillion curves on the meaty though folk-swung "Tree of Ages" where the riffs are as loud as Tomi Joutsen, and organic pipes and strings peep into the song's thunder. All of AMORPHIS's tricks are crammed into the closing number "White Night", which hangs measures of banging straight rock and female vocals with heaps of freewheeling fusion progressions.

All told, AMORPHIS is playing at a zenith of their talents, yet having toured last year for the 20th anniversary of "Tales from the Thousand Lakes", it still comes down, after all these years, to either being down with this group's stylistic changes or not.


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).