Skyforger review by Amorphis

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  • Released: Jan 1, 2009
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.6 (72 votes)
Amorphis: Skyforger
4

Sound — 8
Amorphis have got to be pleased with where they are at the moment. Their new album Skyforger rides on the momentum they've built up with their last two excellent releases, Eclipse and Silent Waters. Nuclear Blast are certainly hoping this will be a huge album for them, considering the strict policies they set regarding who gets to hear the promotional copies, and yours truly must say that the wait to hear Skyforger was at times pretty darn painful.

If you are familiar with Amorphis' recent output, then the sound of Skyforger won't come as much of a surprise. It's melodic, melancholic, mostly heavy and song-oriented metal. The folk element is on display for all to see, but not in the, say, Finntroll-way. We're treated to subtle melodies and folkier outings on piano and acoustic guitar, but never is it it overdone. It adds a certain shimmer to the whole product, rather than tarnish it with overexposure.

In terms of production, as most albums released in this day and age, there's little to say. It's very well produced and perhaps a bit slicker than most metal albums, but there's sufficient grit and dirt on there to please those of us who prefer our sounds unpolished and raw.

Lyrics — 9
The lyrical themes for Amorphis are often brought in from Finnish mythology, and Skyforger is no different. I am no expert on the Kalevala, but I dare say that the album tells the story of Seppo Ilmarinen, who is credited with crafting the sky and forging the Sampo (a magic artifact of some sort). The language isn't overly rich, but the storyline is more than enough to please those of us interested in quality lyricism and storytelling.

Tomi Joutsen is, quite bluntly, the best damn thing that could happen to Amorphis. He can go from super-sweet, gentle and emotional vocals to deep growls at will and he certainly uses that ability to great effect on Skyforger. The versatility that his vocals lend the music are priceless and I can't for the life of me think of someone who could fit this band and sound better than him.

Overall Impression — 9
Amorphis is one of those bands that attempt to set a certain vibe, and then manage to execute it while sounding sincere and honest. There are bands that try to implement soft passages only to sound uncomfortable doing so, and vice versa. Amorphis' sound flows like a river with seamless shifts in mood and intensity, which makes Skyforger such a pleasing listen. The songs are all around 4-6 minutes long, which lends itself well to a pop-formula with intros, verses and choruses coming at expected times. The core of Amorphis' sound is basically a regular hard rock/metal formula, with a rhythm guitar accompanying a lead guitar, but that'd be dumbing things down a tad too much. Joutsen's vocal melodies, as well as Kallio's keys play a huge rule in adding splashes to the canvas to help round things out and give them detail.

There're several songs on Skyforger that will no doubt manage to stick in your head, like Silver Bride, Skyforger and Majestic Beast. Skyforger is filled with quality songwriting that manages to push the right buttons at the right time. Occasionally I kept thinking to myself that things have been a bit too cute and sweet for awhile now and then at the exact right time they drop the sonic anvil in my crotch. A perfect example of such a moment is when the title track goes off, around the 4:30 mark after the bridge, when a choir sings I am and Juotsen replies with the forger of the earth in a deep growl.

Skyforger will no doubt be high on the lists that aim to pick out the ten best albums of 2009, and it deserves it. The album peaks at the right time, and holds a high standard all the way, from the opening piano melody to the closing acoustic outro. Amorphis are firing at all cylinders and the sky is the limit for them.

29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    pazzle
    i checked out the album due to its ranking in the UG years list and certainly did not regret. besides all other songs, the one that has stuck in my mind is 'sky is mine' it's simply mind blowing.
    Chozodragon
    This album is outrageously flawless. Incredible work, must-have for every melodic metal fan ... The songs are from very good to mindblowing ...
    moody git
    dennert123 wrote: 'From The Heaven Of My Heart' my favorite from the new album. so LISTEN IT!
    +1 to that. it is downright amazing. i've had this album a while but today was the first time i listened to it all the way through. quickly becoming one of my favourite bands
    Necray
    The solos of "Silver bride" and "Sky is mine" are mindblowing 8)
    metalwolf9
    Hey, the Sky is Mine song is pretty good too. I loved how the delays were used in the rhytmn!
    henrihell
    I bought the album today and in the piano intro I was "Holy crap, not another Silent Waters" but when the guitars came in it was an totally other feeling, it was soo f*ckin' amazing!! Skyforger might be their best album since 'The Karelian Isthmus', even though it sounded a bit wierd in some places, but not in a bad way wierd. This was an amazing feeling and my favorite song from it is 'Majestic Beast' cause I like growls and Joutsen has a really good growl sound, I'd like to hear him growl more oftenly!
    mrminer
    The UG Team's review here captures Amorphis well this a highly under-rated band with guitar talent at the top of their game. Amorphis is largely a guitar-driven group but, as UG observes, their sound has followed a remarkably fluid and exciting progression, most certainly since at least Elegy. "Weeper on the Shore", among other songs on that album, is music you must hear before you leave this life, this planet behind. The vibes wont be for everyone, but if you are open to non-American heavy metal, if the idea of adding a touch of traditional folk instrumentation to your metal intrigues you, but the history of such experimentation by other bands so far has disappointed, give Amorphis a try. Yes, the regular hard rock/metal formula is followed with smarter execution, but the initiative and creative ambitions of Amorphis are close to Pink Floyd-levelsand the overstatement is warranted to get the attention this music deserves. "Skyforger" is not the next "Dark Side of the Moon", but these comparisons may indeed be in the future, so strong is their effort. This band does not aspire to mythic levels, they reach them on a regular basis. This author honestly thought of the classic 1973 masterpiece back when "Eclipse" and "Far From the Sun" pushed the band to the limits of metal (and not just because of the planetary titles). Without ever falling entirely into the subgenres of death-metal, or stoner/psychedelic/space metal, Amorphis continuously re-introduce shades of these elements in an on-going experiment which, amazingly enough, never overwhelms the heavy foundation. Amorphis pull off the effect with a genuine, near-effortless passion and bravado but avoid coming across as arrogant or high-minded. These guys know how to get high with soaring guitars. The orchestrations and jams are weaved into very listenable songs full of addictive high-points and catchy choruses. These moments are what set Amorphis apart from almost every other metal band today. The 4:30 moment in the title track is among the best on the album, when the chugging guitar riffs piled on one another are met with a lifting choir of fans chanting along, bringing the song from the hypnotic depths to a new mind-bending high. Actually, the moment first occurs at 45, when the faint sound of the wicked choir is a whisper, and then the crescendo builds at 4:20 (wink, wink, nudge) as their volume nears the level of the guitars. A similar moment occurs at 3:35 on "Silver Bride". This is the trademark of Skyforger: while the last few albums showed consistent originality, they did suffer from a sense of falling just short of the target. Now Amorphis have managed to bridle their passion and talent with a confidence and discipline that makes these choruses and crescendos all the more rewarding and exhilarating. Each minute of each song is more exciting than the previous. All that said, at the center of Amorphis Universe is guitar revolving around guitar, with the moons of dozens more instruments orbiting and colliding and rebuilding, combining into an other-worldly, astral experience which just must be heard. Fans of Amorphis may already have favorite phases: the pre-Elegy phase, before the softer vocals were introduced; or the post-Elegy phase when Am Universum and Tuonela signaled a dramatic progression away from Death Metal (not seen since perhaps Carcass wrote and released Swan Song). This creature, however, does not show signs of implosion a la Carcass, quite the opposite: the future is boundless for Amorphis just as their name suggests, but even more as the music proves. They may not write the next Dark Side of the Moon, but with Skyforger one truly believes they are not incapable of that feat. Truly, this is music to hear before you die if not before tomorrow.
    vinc3nt
    I've heard a few songs from the album and it rocks. Great work Amorphis!
    metalbluesman16
    it has been awhile since ive heard some good melodic death since dethklok (i know insert comedic insult of taste here) so ill be checking this out for sure
    Ilzu
    I think it's kinda rare to see Amorphis havin' this sorta hype... Is it really that good stuff? I say it's basic rock with only few interesting things -_-
    DukeFame
    Silent water , Eclipse , but Tales from the thousand lake may be the best. Elegy is also great
    Reviewer Pete
    vanshaya wrote: Can you good folks recommend me another album by them? I quite liked this one.
    Silent Waters or Eclipse. It's a coin flip, really.
    SoulSlaughter
    @ vanshaya : Silent Waters! i love that album! the first time I did the cd in my pc, i almost came! sampo is an amazing openingtrack! love amorphis, love this album! good review!
    vanshaya
    Can you good folks recommend me another album by them? I quite liked this one.
    Flaming Chaos
    absolutely fantasic album, definately one of the best vocalists in metal at the moment. loved it from start to finish, good review.
    SlapLaB
    Came back from work listening to this... Forgot how great it was - 10/10 When I think that I could have missed listening to this album... THANKS UG!!!