To be honest, I’m kind of shocked we went this long without posting a Top 10 for our Finnish (prog?) (melo-death?) (whatever-you-want-to-call-them?) heroes in Amorphis. It’s coming up on six years since I first really fell for these guys following the release of Skyforger, and my subsequent trips back through their discography only cemented their status as a band for whom I’ll kneel and pledge my undying love. (Setting aside the occasional frustration over their apparent refusal to tour extensively over here in the States, that is…)
BUT! On that note, today marks exactly one month from my annual pilgrimage down to Baltimore for Maryland Deathfest—at which Amorphis will be playing. So in honor of that, here’s my top 10 for Amorphis. Let’s jump on in…
“Weaving the Incantation” (from Silent Waters, 2007)
Not sure I can think of many more powerful album openers than this. Terrific combination of apocalyptic, heavy verses with catchy, melodic choruses, and an absolute vocal masterclass from Tomi Joutsen. “Weaving the Incantation” was the perfect way to show us he’d be having no sophomore slump.
“The Lost Name of God” (from The Karelian Isthmus, 1992)
I’ll admit: having started with the band’s more progressive, melodic later fare, their earliest death/doom sound took me a bit to get into. But eventually, albums like The Karelian Isthmus began to sink in. Terrific usage of repeating themes and melodic lines throughout “The Lost Name of God” make its brilliance apparent even to noobs like me.
“On Rich and Poor” (from Elegy, 1996)
That introduction…good lord. Just a perfect slice of melo-death goodness that any of the Gothenburg bands would have killed for. Things get even more epic-sounding with a new at around 1:45, and the band weaves back and forth between these new motifs effortlessly throughout. It’s hard not to find yourself humming along by the time all’s said and done.
“Sky is Mine” (from Skyforger, 2009)
The first entry from my personal favorite Amorphis album, “Sky is Mine” is a terrific, upbeat track that highlights Esa Holopainen’s lead ability. His echo-driven lines combine to set a pace for this thing that rarely lets up, and Jan Rechberger matches him perfectly with a steady intensity on the drums. Just fantastic.
“Sign” (from Silent Waters, 2007)
How exactly this thing was relegated to mere bonus-track status is beyond me. Regardless, “Sign” boasts one of the more infectious guitar refrains you’ll hear from Amorphis and a terrific, almost Middle Eastern-influenced verse pattern. It’s hard to top this one, in the end…and frankly, I’m not sure anything on Silent Waters does.
“Black Winter Day” (from Tales from the Thousand Lakes, 1994)
To me, Amorphis is at their best when they’ve got a nice piano-driven intro to work with, and “Black Winter Day” is the perfect example. The keyboards really shine here, adding a necessary melodic angle to the otherwise gloomy backdrop. Great stuff.
“The Smoke” (from Eclipse, 2006)
Surprise, surprise—another piano driven intro! And this one’s even catchier—with an epic, uplifting melody that you can’t help but get hooked on. Part of an altogether fantastic debut as vocalist from Tomi.
“Escape” (from The Beginning of Times, 2011)
“Escape” has a lot going for it in general, but there’s one element that really makes it stand out: the chorus simply soars. It’s easily one of Tomi’s best performances since joining the band. Not much off The Beginning of Times has really held up in the four years since its release, but this is one I’ll always love.
“Against Widows” (from Elegy, 1996)
If that harmonized riff at the beginning doesn’t make you drool, you probably don’t have ears.
“Sampo” (from Skyforger, 2009)
Aaaaand here’s my favorite—from Skyforger, from Tomi’s time in the band….really, from the band, period. “Sampo” makes perfect use of every one of its six minutes, taking listeners on a proper journey all throughout. From the beautiful, piano-driven intro, to the otherworldly heartache of the chorus, to the thicker, heavier bridge section, everything’s completely seamless…and completely perfect. If I was to only hear one Amorphis song for the rest of my life, you bet your ass it’d be this one.
The Horns Up Top 10 on Spotify
That’ll do it! I’ll be off in my corner getting unreasonably excited about seeing these guys next month. You guys? Give it a listen, and check back later on for the usual!
Keep it heavy,