Live at The House of Blues, Hollywood, CA 10/13/2008

Review by Travis Baumann

Amorphis, to state it simply, put on an awesome show. I was immediately impressed by the musicianship before the lead singer even came out. The vocals and lyrics for me however, are what sets this band apart from any others that would be considered similar.

Tomi the lead singer, blends styles ranging from a melodic but masculant voice to extremely harsh growled vocals but always at the right moment to emphasize a particular emotion.

The band consists of a total of six musicians including the lead singer. Two guitarists, a bassist, drummer and live keyboards that were actually being played, no backing tracks, make up the rest of the band. All of these guys look to be in their thirties at least and had a relaxed, mature attitude on stage and were enjoying themselves.

The lead singer kept his eyes shut nearly the entire show, putting himself into the right mental state to sing with all the power and emotion that is present on the studio tracks and even more. He has an absolutely awesome voice and really pulls you into the performance even without making eye contact.

They played a long set, at least twelve songs before leaving the stage and then they came back out and did three more for the encore. They started off the set with "I Of Crimson Blood" and then moved into "The Smoke" off of the "Eclipse" album which was fantastic live.

The singer held a large mic the whole time and was in his own world, envisioning the elaborate stories that go into the lyrics of the songs. Every note was perfect. They played "Against Widows" next and then "In to Hiding". "Divinity" followed and then they did "Silent Waters". The backdrop behind them was a really cool scene taken from the new album cover of a dark pond or lake, all grey and forboding. The new shirts looked really cool as well sporting the colorful swan resting on this dark silent water.

Next they played "Towards and Against" and then one of my favorite songs of theirs, "Leaves Scar". I couldn't help but sing along to this one, it was great to see it live.  I wouldn't have minded a few more songs from "Eclipse" but at least they did my favorite. They played "Sign from the North Side", "On Rich and Poor", "Alone" and then finished up the set with "Castaway" which was amazingly well done.

After a short break and much chanting they returned and went into my other favorite song "House of Sleep" for their first encore track. It was so good, another sing-along for me. I loved this song so much, I honestly have no idea what the next two songs were of the encore. I know they did at least two more but I couldn't tell you what they were or what album they were from, I left the show still singing "House of Sleep".

This show had some issues with opening bands such as Leave's Eyes bailing out all together which was a disappointment and then Samael, whom I love, had massive techinical difficulties and could only do four songs, all older ones at that. Virgin Black was very good and fun to watch but I am very pleased to report that whatever difficulties or disappointments were prior, Amorphis were so good live that it made up for it all.

These guys are seasoned professionals and really talented. Their sound is at times more accessible to the main-stream than many Nuclear Blast bands and at times I could see fans of even mellow rockers like their Finnish country-mates HIM enjoy these guys but they also have a harder edge that comes out at just the right moments and this wins over even the darkest metal-heads.

I really love the way the keyboards are an integral part of the songs and the guitar work is meandering and moody, building real soulful songs and this is apparent by how the musicians all got caught up in the moment, fed off of each other and without lots of fancy lights, costumes, makeup or anything but pure music, they enthralled the audience. Even on the quieter moments, you could not hear anyone in the audience talking or doing anything but focusing on the music.

I wish there would have been an even bigger turn-out for these guys. As it was for a Monday night event, it still had a fairly decent audience and they made up with enthusiasm for what they lacked in numbers.

This was one of the later dates of the tour, I think they only had four or five shows left in rapid succession so by the time you read this, it is probably too late to catch this outing but I highly recommend picking up their CD's and do not, under any circumstances, miss these guys the next time they come through your area. They are awesome live and really inspire and encourage the metal scene.

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