I finally made time to explore this acclaimed album from 2018. And it has quickly become one of my very favorite listens over the past few weeks. Yes, indeed, it’s an absolutely superb metal album.
In 2018, it was chosen as Record of the Month for May 2018 by AMG (full review here), and also #5 on the list of Best Albums of 2018 by MoMM (full review here). So, now it’s official over here at Progarchy: I add my voice to the chorus of praise.
My entry point was the amazing song “Amongst Stars,” which features Anneke van Giersbergen joining the vocals. After I had listened to that magical song a half dozen times, I was totally hooked. And I soon downloaded the rest of the album, thus beginning a happy journey of wondrous audio exploration.
If you are skeptical about an album full of death metal vocals and growls integrated into proggy metal that also has stunning clean vocals, this is the album to convert you to the expanded artistic possibilities opened up that sonic palette. For me, it was “Heart of the Giant” that demonstrated what only death metal vocals can effectively accomplish in tandem with epic riffs and big choir arrangements. This is an invigorating song to revel in.
But every song is exciting in its own way. An infusion of world music modalities and folk music influences give a distinctive edge to practically every song on the album. You’ll hear Celtic, Middle Eastern, and much more. But that’s the sharp edge of a very heavy musical broadsword wielded by the band. With finesse, its audio slicing motions frequently deploy virtuoso guitar solos and spacey synth keyboard solos.
Every song is indisputably upper echelon, but we will each have our favorites. In addition to the two I already mentioned above, I would name “Daughter of Hate” (thanks to its unexpectedly effective saxophone solos), “Wrong Direction,” and then the two bonus tracks, which seem to be most accessible to prog lovers (“As Mountain Crumble” and “Brother and Sister”). But who am I kidding, I also look forward to the powerful one-two punch of the openers “The Bee” and “Message and Amber.” In truth, every track thrills as it comes on over your speakers.
Now that this album has taken pride of place on my daily playlist, I am really looking forward to seeing Amorphis when they visit here on tour with Delain and Anneke later this year.
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