Over the course of the last couple of releases, Finland’s Amorphis have evolved from their original doom metal sound to become a hard/alt rock band. Much like Katatonia and Anathema, Amorphis have wiped their hands of their former style and they seem quite happy to leave it in the past, thank you very much. The band’s detractors will cry “sell-out” but in my opinion, a “sell-out” is when a band plays music that they are not doing for themselves but for commercial gain. FAR FROM THE SUN is not going to be hitting the Top 40 charts any time soon and there is still some edge to their music without drifting into growls and frenzied double bass drumming. Will the new sound lose them some fans? After the initial offerings of TALES FROM THE THOUSAND LAKES and ELEGY, the new direction already has, but truth be told, while it lacks the metallic punch of their previous works, FAR FROM THE SUN is still a decent album. There are hook-filled melodies, Eastern influences, the presence of a Moog synthesizer and even some calypso/reggae beats. This is some progressive stuff, but really lacks any punch. FAR FROM THE SUN is a good way to spend an hour if you can keep from nodding off or that long.
The music on FAR FROM THE SUN is quite eclectic and may be difficult for some listeners to grasp. Hell, I’m not sure I get it myself! The extremely infectious lead-off track, “Day of Your Beliefs,” is catchy as nobody’s business. Pasi Koskinen has since left the band, but his vocals on this track are melodic perfection. The Middle Eastern influences are present on “Planetary Misfortune” and “Higher Ground” and snake their way through your speakers. The global exploration continues on with calypso/reggae beats coming into “Ethereal Solitude.” While interesting, it doesn’t really work too well and just seems awkward. “Smithereens” features a Moog synthesizer that captures the mood and hearkens back to the 70s when the instrument was popular.
FAR FROM THE SUN was released in Europe in May 2003, but is just getting a North American release now. As part of the package, five bonus tracks have been included as well as a music video for “Evil Inside.” Out of the bonus tracks, the only one that really stands out is “Dreams of The Damned.” Koskinen’s clean vocal is very effective in the chorus and Esa Holopainen’s leads shake things up a bit.
FAR FROM THE SUN is a bit unfocused and sees the band trying to find itself a new identity. I hate to call it boring, but there is just too much experimentation going on here and the whole album seems overlong and messy. I’m the furthest from an “all metal, all the time” kind of guy, but after an hour without any real change in pace or tempo, you may find yourself far from awake listening to this CD.
KILLER KUTS: “Day of Your Beliefs,” “Planetary Misfortune,” “God of Deception,” “Higher Ground,” “Dreams of The Damned”
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