Live at The Whisky a Go Go
West Hollywood, California
April 7th, 2017
Review and Photos by Travis Baumann
Amorphis are a heavy metal band from Finland. They started off as a death metal act in 1990 but over the years have added progressive and folk styles into their music. It is the blending of these different genres that make Amorphis such a unique and amazing band.
Many of their lyrics are based around the Kalevala which is the "Epic Poem of Finland". It is a mythology in ways but also more profound in its stories of history, nature, mankind, and our interaction with the universe. These are performed as moving stories portraying shamanistic journeys that seek knowledge or understanding interwoven with tales of magic and mystery.
The band went through a lot of lineup changes in the early days but have found a solid base with the current crew of artists who have been playing together since 2005. Founding members Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari handle the dual guitar duties with Jan Rechberger playing drums. Joining the original trio of players is Niclas Etelävuori on bass guitar, Santeri Kallio on keyboards, and up front and center, Tomi Joutsen on vocals.
Their music is layered and rich with textures from all different eras. The keyboards lend symphonic and melodic qualities that lift the music beyond heavy metal and the guitar work can be at times heavy and driving, but also soothing and meandering depending on the song.
Tomi's vocals are exceptional, ranging from deep, almost Gothic sounding melodic verse, to growled extreme parts as well. The clean singing is emotional and compelling but perfectly emphasized by the punctuation of the snarled heavier delivery.
Amorphis released their latest album last year called, "Under the Red Cloud" and are touring in promotion of this release. I was excited to see these guys since they first announced the tour, as they put on an amazing show and I have not been able to see them live since they toured in 2008.
They started out the set with the title track from the new album and immediately set the mood and tone for the night and got the audience enthralled in one massive blow. Continuing with new material, they played "Sacrifice" which was amazing live.
I truly appreciate every release they have put out but the 2009 album "Skyforger" is impressive from beginning to end, so I was excited to hear two tracks back to back from it with "Sampo" and the fantastic, "Silver Bride".
They only did one song from their previous release, "Circle" but they chose a heartful one with "Hopeless Days". They returned to "Skyforger" for the powerful title track which I, and the rest of the audience, sang along with. Picking another excellent track from the new album they played a favorite of mine with "Bad Blood".
I first started listening to Amorphis with their 2006 release "Eclipse", so I was thankful to hear one of my favorites from it with "The Smoke". They went further into their back catalog at this point and pulled out some gems from mid 1990's with "Into Hiding", "On Rich And Poor" and the fan favorite, "My Kantele".
They were playing a lengthy and amazing set but at this point they hit my all time favorite song of theirs, "House Of Sleep" from the "Eclipse" release. This was pretty much the song that immediately cemented my love for Amorphis over 11 years ago, and I still love hearing it every time.
Coming to that expected juncture, the band left the stage as they concluded their main set. We all shouted for more, as that last song just made us all want to continue the journey. They very quickly returned to the stage and played an awesome song from the new album with "Death of a King".
They finished up the set with a song from their 1994 release, "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" with "Black Winter Day", which had the added bonus of Mikko Kotamäki, the lead singer of their tour-mates Swallow The Sun, joining them on stage for a dual vocal assault for the growled portions of the song.
It was an amazing show to say the least. I was still singing "House of Sleep" all the way home. These guys are so impressive live, they sounded perfect on every song and Tomi's vocals are really something special. I love the moving tales and pictures they paint with song. Since the concert I have been listening to all of their albums repeatedly .
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