Amorphis Am Universum (Relapse Records, 2001)
Amorphis, a Finnish band originally in the Scandinavian death metal style, mixes hard rock chops and tones with pop rock songwriting and vocals on Am Universum, the most mellow and accessible of their twelve releases since 1991. The tone of the music on Am Universum is grainy and drawn out, with sustained keyboard passages and gravely, held vocals, like a slightly heavier and more experimental Smash Mouth. "Alone" epitomizes this style, beginning with a spacey piano and synth passage that builds with a background guitar line before a big rock entrance of pulsing drums and bass over subdued rhythm guitars. The guitars grind in the background with a strummed, modern rock or grunge feel as they create a sonic backdrop for the vocals and other lead instruments. In a few places like the intro of "Crimson Wave," the guitars jump to the forefront and break into discrete riffs, before dropping back again behind more ethereal synth and vocal passages. Instrumental textures like Hammond organ and piano synth sounds, percussive acoustic guitar, and saxophone add a depth of timbre to the music, especially in more experimental sections like the extended sax solo in "Crimson Wave." These passages show a hint of the band's prog rock and art rock influences. Amorphis has certainly left their death metal beginnings behind in favor of a style and sound with more harmonic complexity and sonic texture, mostly aligned along pop rock lines but also featuring hints of a more experimental side. However, except for the catchy groove and chorus of "Veil of Sin," little of the songwriting on Am Universum calls Amorphis out from the current pack of similarly grungy, accessible hard rock bands.
Reviewed by Scott Andrews [firstname.lastname@example.org] More Info: http://www.amorphis.net/ Lineup: Pasi Koskinen - Vocals Esa Holopainen - Guitar Tomi Koivusaari - Guitar Niclas Etelavuori - Bass Santeri Kallio - Synthesizers Pekka Kasari - Drums Track Listing: 1. Alone 2. Goddess (Of The Sadman) 3. The Night Is Over 4. Shatters Within 5. Crimson Wave 6. Drifting Memories 7. Forever More 8. Veil Of Sin 9. Captured State 10. Grieve Stricken Heart
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