Published on June 2nd, 2018 | by Justin G.
Amorphis: Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast)
I suppose at some point I should stop being surprised when Amorphis serves up yet another album of the year contender. The Finnish metal band has delivered one exceptional album after another for more than a quarter century, after all. Still, it always comes as a shock when a band that’s been around so long puts out an album as impactful as their latest effort Queen of Time.
Honestly, I didn’t think Amorphis would be able to top their last album (2015’s essential Under the Red Cloud), but Queen of Time is just as good, if not better. It’s the perfect representation of the Amorphis sound since they moved past being simply a death metal band (albeit a great death metal band) back in 1996. The haunting melodies, the progressive elements, the very effective mix of clean and growled vocals, and the inclusion of folk and gothic touches all combine for something uniquely Amorphis. It doesn’t hurt that super-producer Jens Bogren is once again on hand to put the perfect finishing touches on the album.
Queen of Time, like Under the Red Cloud, brings to mind the best parts of classic Amorphis releases like Elegy, Tuonela and Skyforger. Advance single “The Bee” was the perfect introduction to the album, pairing fierce vocals with exquisite keyboards and haunting, poetic lyrics. The same themes – Viking past, Finnish legends and contemplations of nature and the universe – come up again and again, giving Queen of Time an epic feel even when the songs are at their catchiest and most accessible (see “Wrong Direction”). “Heart of the Giant” (ridiculously effective mix of thundering rhythms and epic choral sections on that one), “Grain of Sand” and “Pyres on the Coast” are other highlights, but literally every song here is a highlight. “Amongst Stars is worth special mention though, as it pairs Tomi Joutsen with the one and only Anneke Van Giersbergen (Vuur, ex-The Gathering) to great effect.
So yeah, Amorphis has done it again. Queen of Time is a flawless heavy metal album, and even with their impressive legacy it’s arguably the best thing they’ve released. Unless you’re one of those crusty old fans who thought they “went soft” after The Karelian Isthmus, there’s really no way you won’t love this album. You’re not going to find a better marriage of death/progressive/melodic/folk metal sounds than Queen of Time.
Format Notes: The deluxe CD version of Queen of Time comes in a digipack and includes a pair of bonus tracks – “As Mountains Crumble” and “Brother and Sister” – that are as good as any song on the main album.
Summary: Pure greatness