Amorphis – Am Universum

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: March 2001
Released: 2001, Relapse Records
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: CrashTest

Before I dig into this review, I gotta say that I am NOT an expert on Amorphis. Up until now my education has come mainly from two albums: Tales From the Thousand Lakes and Elegy. I really dig the latter and the former I could take or leave. Know this though, Amorphis is perhaps the least static of any metal band out there. Each new album is a departure from the last until what began as a melodic death metal sound is now far from it. In fact, with this new release I would venture to say that Amorphis now have as much in common with 90s alternative as they do with metal. Amorphis fans will probably say this is a natural progression in the sound but be slightly disappointed.

With this release Amorphis has done several things that really stand out from their past stuff. First, the vocals are 99% clean, which following as it does on the heels of Tuonela suggests they may be sticking with this vocal style for good. Second, the guitars, particularly on the first few songs, are heavily influenced by The Edge (see U2). Third, two instruments appear on several songs that you don’t expect to hear on a metal album … a saxophone and what sounds like a Hammond organ. Thus, it’s not an ominous, atmospheric organ sound, but more a 70s classic rock sound a la Boston and Kansas. Having given this sort of introduction, I’m sure I’ve now scared many metal fans away. But don’t leave just yet. While this may not be a great album, neither is it a total loss. The more I listen, the more I enjoy. Particularly songs like Alone, Shatters Within and Crimson Wave.

Here’s the bottom line. If you despise anything with even a slight hint of alternative, spend your money somewhere else. On the other hand, if you’re an open-minded listener, give this one a try.

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