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AMORPHIS - Queen Of Time

Release date May 18/18 (Nuclear Blast)

The 1990's was a period of transformation for Amorphis as they morphed from a straight-up death metal act to a more melodic/progressive/folk/death unit through its initial four album run. Subsequently, eight more albums were issued in the 2000's up to 2015, all of which shared what is now perceived as the signature Amorphis sound. Accessible metal riffage with folk tinges, along with a mix of clean and gruff vox are the band's calling card, creating an ethereal/heavy dichotomy. From this reviewer's perspective, all of these albums contained a few highlighted tracks, but were inconsistent in their quality. That is, all except the last release, 2015's Under The Red Cloud which was a return to form for Amorphis.

In our hands we now have the new Queen Of Time album begging the question, has Amorphis retained its upward trajectory with the new platter? First up, don't expect any major surprises. The band continue to mine their unique epic sound, swirling keys and saxophone making appearances amongst the mix of lush melodies and heaving metal sequences. Secondly, there's lots of room for the individual players to show off their skills within the framework of different songs, adding a further question: with the abundance of talent at every position and their willingness to show it, are Amorphis evolving into the new Deep Purple once the originators finally call it a day? But I digress. Thirdly, the Finnish unit maintain the high quality that they provided us on Under The Red Cloud with respect to song writing.

While all the tracks are well worth perusing, the highlighted songs would be the upbeat 'The Golden Elk', with its memorable chorus and acoustic guitar/heavenly choir mid-section, along with the rich and lusty 'We Accursed' and the essential 'Amongst Stars', with a memorable guest vocal from Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering). Oh yeah - there's also the dreamy 'Brothers And Sisters' that incredibly didn't make the proper album cut and is only included as a bonus on the limited edition version. Talk about depth!

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