Am Universum reviews
OzzyApu on April 23rd, 2013
The Totality Of Existence
Am Universum continues Tuonela’s psychedelic / progressive trip, refines it, and in the end becomes something titanic. The dark, floating vibe of the previous album meets the optimistic, toppling, oceanic one presented here. I still have no idea as to what that cover art is showing, but it's become inseparable from the compassionate music it represents. If ever there was an Amorphis album to sound expansive and humble at the same time, then this would be it.
The album starts with “Alone,” which I’ll never fall short in praising. There are a few ways to express approval for this hit, such as calling it spacey, vast, atmospheric, introspective, catchy, and captivating. It’s one of my favorite Amorphis songs of all time, where the band reached what is essentially the furthest, most astonishing point in this direction. Pasi’s grainy cleans and accented yelling are supported by Koivusaari’s robust riffing and Esa’s echoing leads, building upon a front-heavy sound that’s virtuous and crisp. Thereafter, “Goddess (Of The Sad Man)” and its infectious hooks (Esa’s impressive, resounding lines after the first chorus are the best) comes in to segue the music into the rockier optimism the album follows as its doctrine. “The Night Is Over” and “Shatters Within” are the finishers to the opening winning streak, showing some more of the band’s capable, versatile writing. It helps that the drive and energy the band displays as they create moving compositions are committed with no reservations.
Amorphis’ formula around this time called for middle eastern / eastern influences to push it in a direction that morphed psychedelic / progressive influences with those of particular folk and philosophy. Written in an easily listenable form, what’s shaped is something diverse and inscrutable. The rousing “Forever More,” the emotional “Veil Of Sin,” the brazen “Captured State,” and the laidback closer provide the needed backbone for the album’s longevity. Thanks to those, Am Universum works both as something with strong individual momentousness and a full album’s cohesion. The latter half is less unforgettable and inspiring as the first three or four songs kicking off this album, but those are hard songs to compete with anyway.
Moving from the rhythm up, the drumming and bass work is dependable for what it’s supposed to accomplish. This is progressive, but it’s still a rock album with the Amorphis flavoring. The bass is succulently fat, with lines heard well under the unsoiled guitar distortion and opulent production values. Drumming at the back is generally steady the entire time with most of the showmanship a duty being Esa’s responsibility. While the drums and bass provide a backing that’s rather forthright, the experimentation with brass instruments and organ is tastefully applied. “Crimson Wave,” a song with uneven flow and catchiness, has proper placement of these experimental moments (such as that sax solo). The heavier “Difting Memories” is in the same situation with a meandering level of being entertaining until the second half of the song realizes that a faster pace would make the song heavier and more enjoyable.
Other than the above criticism, Am Universum rules. While that organ sounds goofy at times, this album’s pretty wrought with its seriousness. It’s got class in presentation, coolness in execution, and direction with its writing. Most of the time it won’t waste itself on inconsequential experimentation, either. Amorphis still remains melodic and determined with edge and personality to their fluid nature.
kluseba on July 31st, 2011
On mushroom clouds and crimson waves
If musical perfection exists, than it exists on this record. Amorphis lead us in an amorphous form on mushroom clouds and crimson waves to a musical paradise. This album is an "eargasm". It's a combination of everything I love about music. Each time I think of this album, I have a smile on my face and am looking forward to listen to it over and over again. It's certainly in my top three favourite albums of all times and maybe on the top of it. The only reason why I don't give one hundred percent is because I will never do that because pure perfection simply doesn't exist. It really took a lot of time, reflection and inspiration to write an appropriate review for this very special record to me but now the step is done and here it is.
Let's begin with the description of this piece of art. Let's have a look at the weird cover. It's simple and yet intriguing. I have passed hours to discover what this strange organic thing on the cover artwork is, I have talked to friends about it and shown it to experts. Nobody could give me an answer but everybody was intrigued by this. It's one of the rare album covers that is not simply beautiful and original but makes people think. The first big success of this record is its artwork. Let's say that the cover for the single "Alone" that can also be found on the back of the booklet is not by much less intriguing and mysterious.
Let's talk about the music. It’s probably needless to say that the sound and production of the album is perfect for me. The band combines progressive rock elements, melodic metal as well as jazz and lounge influences to a highly atmospheric album that sound like Amorphis and nothing else. Every song has something special and intriguing but this diversity perfectly fits together and the album has magic and coherent flow. Every song on here is catchy and memorable and a true killer. The guitars sound as if they were crying and screaming all along and are filled with emotions. The bass is audible and plays some very catchy rhythms and does a very solid background work with the drums. The keyboards and electric organs don't bury the sound but support it and underline the spacey drug trip atmosphere of the album. If there is one album that one should listen to in a weird state of mind, than it's this one. The guest instrumentations which are a saxophone and a saw fit perfectly to the progressive sounds and are integrated as if they have always been a part of the band sound. The saxophones and keyboards are two main reasons why this album might not only please to any open minded metal fan with taste but also to fans of progressive rock, classical music, world music, jazz or lounge. Sometimes, the guitars even sound like weird grunge pieces and this in a completely positive way. Anybody that has ears should check this album out, seriously. Last but not least, the vocals on this record are so amazing, emotional and diversified that I get goose bumps every time I'm listening to the album. The vocals always sound like an additional instrument as they are so melodic and form a perfect duality with the music itself. Every song is catchy and the hooks on the album are amazing. Even if the later Amorphis singer Tomi Joutsen is technically said easily better than Pasi Koskinen, the magic and flow that he creates on this album is almost unbeatable. His vocal attitude somewhere between relaxed, dreamy and emotional perfectly fits on this album.
It's hard to point out highlights on this coherent record. Seriously, every single song is worth being discussed in detail but I would still write on this review for the next couple of days. But to give you a better idea of the music and my worship for this record, I think I should give you three credible and concrete examples.
First of all, I would go for the opener "Alone" which is the best opener and single I have ever witnessed on any album of any form of music in my life. The floating and calm introduction gets me immediately into the right mood for the entire record before the instruments kick in with energy and emotion. The vocals are dreamy and emotional at the same time and I knew the chorus would never leave my mind again when I listened to it for the first time. The saxophone solo adds something even more exotic to the sound and fits way better than any guitar solos could. "Alone" represents the album in a perfect way and should be the first song to be checked out by anyone that got intrigued by my review.
I would also like to mention the great "Crimson waves" with its lounge feeling and dominating jazz influences. The song ends with a great jazz-rock jam where keyboards, guitars and saxophones work together in heavenly perfection. It's one of the most experimental songs ever done by Amorphis but fits perfectly to the album and is well placed in the middle of it.
The album closer "Grieve stricken heard" opens with weird space sounds and has an almost oriental ritual vibe. It varies from calm and introspective, longing and melancholic passages to a dynamical and catchy chorus that strangely fits in a perfect way to the diversified influences of the track. Amorphis never sounded as amorphous but everything fits together as if the record was glued and fixed together by the gods of Finnish mythology. Amorphis put more ideas in this single song than other bands put on entire albums and finish the album in an as perfect way as they have started it. This song represents the album as much as "Alone" did and resumes the record to almost seven minutes of sheer brilliance.
In the end, there is nothing left to say. I think this is Amorphis' best album and they still have done lots of great works. I also gave such a high note to "Tales from the thousand lakes" because it was a groundbreaking record and perfect in its genre. "Am Universum" is pure perfection without any boundaries of a genre. It's timeless. It can please to old and young, to fans of metal or of jazz, to intellectual managers or to homeless hippies. This album is a pure joy for me and I hope that my review my help to spread the words about this fine masterpiece. If you haven't listened to this record yet, just take your time and do it. Buy it right now. Enjoy.
autothrall on January 5th, 2010
It's a morning of misfortune
Am Universum, the 5th full-length album of Amorphis, does not fall far from the tree that was 1999's Tuonela. You could think of it as Tuonela II: The Meatening, because about the only comprehensible difference I notice is a beefier use of the guitars and even more radio friendly polish to the standard rock songwriting being employed. Am Universum, like its predecessor, is not a bad album, but in the past 8-9 years it has not entirely held up for me. A few of the songs still rock, quite hard, though the growls (which appeared only briefly on Tuonela) are now lost. This may also be the first time the band kept a dedicated keyboard player for two consecutive records (Santeri Kallio), but Niclas Etelävuori replaces Olli-Pekka Laine on the bass.
"Alone" was the lead-in single and also christens the album with more of the band's driving pscyedelic-rock over thumping bass rhythms. The guitars are given a popping, funk swagger in the verse and as the vocals soar for the chorus, the guitars rock out in pure chord pounding, with organs trailing behind like an mesh of Finnish folklore and a Wild West showdown. It works, but it's not the best you'll find here. The album then packs its way through two of the better songs, the thundering "Goddess (of the Sad Man)", with a powerful if predictable chorus, and more of the somber, flighty guitar spackle the band is so fond of. "The Night is Over" is like the funky, low down Southern rock gospel according to Amorphis, with curvy blues and enough trip hipness to dust off those bellbottoms and shake down. I enjoy "Shatters Within" for the means it develops its grooving bass line into a cold, wintry stream of piano and axe melody while Pasi soars almost as high as he possibly can...and then it gets even better. "Crimson Wave" features a churning rhythm that drifts into some groovy 70s rock ala The Doors, another of the best tracks the album has to offer.
It is the latter half of this album where I often feel like tuning out (not tuning in), though "Drifting Memories" tries to belay this with a opening surge of elevated melody that almost recalls the brilliance of the band's 1996 masterpiece Elegy. The rest is rather dull. "Forever More" in an exception, sounding bright and hopeful, thanks to the soaring guitar surf and some of Pasi's best vocals on the album, but "Veil of Sin" is a forgettable drag that wouldn't even suit me if I was sitting in a Finnish bar at 1am on a winter night. "Captured State" has a pretty strong chorus, provided you are still awake at this point and can arrive at its mid motion glory. "Grieve Stricken Heart" is another jamming, hippie rocker with blues and organ, the longest track on the album, but sadly there is no money shot worth the price of admission.
As usual, Amorphis enter the studio and later emerge with a top shelf sounding album. This once again transcends the metal boundaries, but unlike many evolving acts, a lot the bands stuck to them, even as they were acquiring droves of new ones from the increased radio/commercial exposure albums like this would win them. Am Universum is Tuonela with a few new chorus hooks and a slightly more bloodied coat of paint. It's their most suitable album for jukebox play at the local drinking hole, a soundtrack to broken hearts and fist fights and drunken stupors that are all delivered through its still-present adherence to the lessons of Finnish yore. Unfortunately, 'I'll drink to that' just doesn't apply to every song on this.
Highlights: The Night is Over, Shatters Within, Crimson Wave, Forever More
Razakel on June 11th, 2009
A Safe Return
After 1999s rock-based Tuonela, it was unclear what direction Amorphis would take with future releases. Instead of radically changing musical styles, like they had done in the past, the band seemed to have found steady ground in which they felt comfortable. Am Universum preserves the moody atmosphere of Tuonela, but explores wider dynamics, and an overall more varying sound.
As soon as the album kicks off with Alone, one of the best tracks from the Pasi-era in my books, you will note that this album is in the same vein as its predecessor. It’s interesting that even though the song doesn’t have the same straight forward approach as most on Tuonela, the catchiness definitely remains; just listen to that chorus! This is true of most songs on Am Universum. Despite less reliance on guitar driven tracks and more emphasis on keyboard melodies, saxophones, and flutes, the music remains as catchy as ever. This is likely due to the more upbeat attitude of the album with bubbly songs such as Goddess (Of The Sad Man) and faster ones like the great sing-along, Drifting Memories. As always, however, the speed greatly varies on this album with much slower, moodier songs like the Veil of Sin, or the mid-paced closer, Grieve Stricken Heart, which clocks in at close to seven minutes (quite lengthy for Amorphis).
The musicianship is tight as always, with each member holding their own and shining throughout the album. Certainly worth mentioning is Pasi’s presentation. I would safely call this technically his best performance, although I personally prefer the pure emotion of Tuonela. Nevertheless, songs such as Alone and Veil of Sin are certainly examples of his best work with Amorphis.
Despite consistency throughout Am Universum, the band just doesn’t offer enough different sounding material to make this album a masterpiece. Although it doesn’t sound overtly repetitive, most of the songs wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Tuonela. That said, this is a very enjoyable album and probably Amorphis’ most progressive and psychedelic to date. The music is easy to casually enjoy, yet there is also potential for deeper, more intimate listening due to the great and diverse song writing. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone willing to listen to it with an open mind. Make sure you don’t expect metal, because you won’t find much of it here.
grimdoom on February 7th, 2009
Music to get laid by!
Heavy Metal isn't known for producing music to fuck to, or at least not in a contemporary sense. True, some may get off while having sex to Cannibal Corpse most of us don't. With the exception of Type-O-Negatives' magnum opus 'October Rust', there really haven't been that many, if any, Heavy Metal albums to copulate too. Thankfully, either by design or by accident, Amorphis gave the Metal community a second choice to consider with the release of their 2001 album.
Amorphis has been and is many things to many people. For the most part, they've been a Doom Metal band since their inception, and still are at their core. This album however broke the mold and in the process beat the hell out of the mold maker. In this we don't hear Doom, or Metal for that matter. What we do hear is a sleek and stylized sample of what Progressive/Darkwave should sound like. This is without a doubt what Deep Purple would've sounded like had they been created in Scandinavia around the latter half of the 90's.
The production is excellent and only enhances the sultry vibe the music evokes. The guitars are full of expression and effects, sounding as if they were created by an unholy union of 70's Prog and 90's Goth. They are melodic about 98% of the time with the other 2% (being used towards the end of the album) used for the heavy parts. There is almost no palm muting in this album what so ever. The guitars are a mixture of open chorded and individually played notes, floating seamlessly around the more traditional rolls of lead and rhythm interplay. As per usual there are no solos but loads of leads. It sounds as if the guitars were tuned to standard as well.
The bass is a little funky and it works. It fills the few gaps that the guitars and keyboards couldn't. The drums are solid in both their delivery and style. They are relaxed but tight and share the bass’s funky feeling.
The keyboards are pure 70's Prog. They are spaced out and lush while always remaining relevant to the songs. They are the atmosphere and on a few occasions, drown out the guitars. There are even a few saxophone leads/solos on two or three songs as well, adding a semi Jazz vibe to the album as a whole.
The vocals are possibly Pasi's best with the band. He doesn't really growl, with the exception of the beginning of every bridge of the first song. He vocals are clean and potent mixing whispered tracks with more straight forward singing. The lyrics are perhaps a little more personal and philosophic than on the bands prior efforts.
This is an emotional roller coaster as the songs go from melancholic to more upbeat and promising. Its sad that "Alone" was the only hit from this as just about any song on here could've been. The songs are very catchy and to the point musically, where as lyrically they require a little more though. The music's beauty is refreshing and soothing. This is something you can listen to several times and pick something new out each time.
Once again, from the beginning notes of "Alone" to the last fading notes of "Grieve Stricken Heart" there is just something erotic about this recording. Whether it was intentional or just happenstance is unknown, but in any event this is something you're girlfriend and/or wife can't bitch about when you're about to get down. Is this Metal? No, not by a long shot, at least not from a musical point of view; but the attitude however is. This is highly recommended to all.
shagnarokvonlustmord on November 26th, 2008
For listeners and fans alike who knew the past Amorphis as they used to exist, were in fact a progressive death metal/doom metal band. They played their music with conviction and in their hey day drew upon many fans of the blossoming death metal sound. Tales From the Thousand Lakes as was The Karrelian Isthmus were prime examples of gut wrenching vocals, heavy guitar playing and a dark and doom filled back drop. Nothing cutting edge really about Amorphis at the time but could hold their own on any music festival. Am Universum continues their stride into a more futuristic progression that has more harmony and up-beat guitar riffing. More keys and unorthodox instruments like saxaphone (as heard on 'Crimson wave' , 'Grief stricken heart' and Veil of sin'), and an uncanny resemblance to Pink Floyd (but heavier of course). Quite frankly this music could have existed in the 70's if it was not for the heavier riffs and drums at times but still reminds the listener of the classic rock/psychedelic era.
From start to finish we see a band that has truly morphed into a prime example of evolution. With bands like Opeth, Moonspell and Behemoth who are ever changing ever experimenting. This is a start of something new, something refreshing. Amorphis have proven that they can play multiple styles well. Think about it, no two records from them sound the same.
Esa as always is in great rhythm with Pekka's drumming (Jan rejoined in 2003) and Pasi's vocals go from harsh at times to very clean and decipherable. His best work is on the sub-ballad 'Veil of sin' I never heard his range before and its pretty damn good considering the differences heard in his vocals on 'Goddess of the sad man' and 'Alone'. There are more rock influenced songs like 'The night is over' and 'Forever more', which have a very modern sound to them. They are radio friendly (really the whole album is) but have that guitar rock sound to them while others have pop and psychedelic influences. The best song 'Grieve stricken heart' is at the end and works as a great closer. It is dramatic and tender at times and can be heavy and harsh the next. A perfect amalgam of hard and light.
Finnish bands, as I have said before, have their own separatist ways about them. No other band sounds like Amorphis just as no other band sounds like Impaled Nazarene or Sentenced. The point I am trying to make here is that everyone at one point is influenced. So much that they create replicas. Not here dammit and not ever. Take it from me if you want refreshing and you are into the 70's classic rock/psychedelic era, mixed with some catchy guitar work and gothic rock influenced singing but all modernized, then Amorphis is your band and Am Universum is your album.
best tracks: the whole damn thing
Axonn on June 22nd, 2007
A step forward
Amorphis’ turn-of-the-millennium release, Am Universum, takes them one more step further from their original style. The music is still pretty savage at times, even though the harsh vocals are gone and Pasi Koskinen does only clean singing. This album also showcases his great clean vocal singing, which is very melodic. This guy sure deserves mention for his wide range of vocals, especially when you listen to him in Shape Of Despair or Ajattara. The band itself took another step forward with this release and their music grew more melodic and entertaining. Highlights include the opener “Alone”, a long excellent and very moody song, “Shatters Within”, “Crimson Wave”, “Veil Of Sin” and more or all...
Am Universum is a solid block of music and the listener can go from song to song without losing anything of the general mood of the album. "Experiments" aplenty. There are lots of special things to find in the more than 53 minutes that Amorphis offer in this release. Lots of different guitar tones combined with well accomplished (but not exaggerated) keyboard touches, excellent singing, good drumming and a bunch of unconventional instruments. All this makes this album something worth to own.
One can question the direction that Amorphis took here, since it’s their first album with no harsh vocals. We might wonder if this is still Amorphis or if they simply sold-out, making their sound acceptable to other listener groups. Personally, I think the answer to this question is that they simply wanted to evolve and venture into more peaceful spheres (as far as metal allows). And nobody can question the change. What we can question is whether this is evolution or involution. I think it’s evolution, even if I have to admit I like Tuonela better. But Am Universum sounds good, it’s enjoyable and it’s musically diverse.
arkbath on December 6th, 2004
Am Universum: great effort, but not enough
I’m a little bit disappointed with Am Universum. I expected something on the style of Elegy, but with bands like Amorphis the musical direction can not be predicted so easily, and that’s what I admire from an artist. This time it didn’t worked for me but Amorphis still remains on one of my favorite bands just for believing in what they do and no getting stuck and remaking old songs. Instead of that, I think that Amorphis is remaking old styles with their latest albums (from Elegy to Far From the Sun). Maybe I don’t like a lot Am Universum because is the less “retro” album since Elegy, but still has its moments.
I feel that the vocals are a little bit out of place for Amorphis. Pasi Koskinen did a great job with Elegy, but he doesn’t fit any more in Amorphis, I think that he sounds too weak for the music. The guitars are OK, but just that. Let’s be honest, there are better and more impressive riffs of this band in other releases and for this album at times they’re too repetitive. They just do enough to remain listening, but not to want more. The same for the bass and drums… just doing their work. The remarkable part of Am Universum is the work of Santeri Kallio on keyboards. That’s the remaining “retro” sound still left on Amorphis for this album (just listen to The Night is Over). And of course, the strange introduction of the saxophone on half of the songs. It’s all right, I enjoyed it, but for some people it can be and absurd. Well, you can’t please everyone.
The best song of the album definitely is Alone (maybe the only one from the album to become a classic), but other good tunes are Goddess (of the Sad Man), The Night is Over, Crimson Wave, Drifting Memories (the intro riff is great) and maybe, Grieve Stricken Heart. Great effort from Amorphis, but not with good results.
WitheringToSerenity on August 7th, 2004
Different but a worthwhile album
Amorphis 2nd last album, Am Universum is a very logical successor from their previous work in which they pretty well ditched their melodic(eastern influenced?) death style and focused more on the psychedelic rock aspects. One thing worth noting is that this is the farthest Amorphis has ventured from metal to date. If you are looking for another Elegy/Tales, you won't find very much comfort. What Amorphis has done like many have pointed out is incorporate rock music with several different jazzy instruments(not to mention the jazzy guitar lines which is sweet) included the saxophone and as always the mighty keyboard layering with elegance. But what makes it unique is the patented Amorphis touch.
Pasi Koskinen is not the greatest vocalist, although he does sing with passion and his vocal approach can be borderline whiny but in a rare case its not such a bad thing(mainstream bands take note). The musical direction as stated is completely different. There is much less emphasis on guitars(particularly rhythm unless there are tons of effects) which is not a strong point for my musical tastes. Nothing with the musical prowess of The Way here folks. Emphasis on many other different jazzy instruments at times. Which although I'll admit not to being a regular fan of I thought was a welcome addition and easily differentiates this from many albums out there. It was not the Amorphis guitarists best hour, but they managed to pull off at least a few catchy prog/psych. rock oriented riffs. Still very skilled, but in a different manner than Tales.
From an albums perspective, the songs are great but there is temptation to skip to a few that stand out. The lyrics are great and the seems to feed off of the bands new unique sound, but they nothing here really stands out like many other Amorphis albums. Its not that I'm disappointed with this release. They still scored a great album(even better considering how little it costs :P), but its nothing that will make me think twice about putting in Elegy or Tuonela on a consistent basis. Recommended for people who appreciate bands who evolve their sound and aren't afraid to try something that isnt traditional metal.
Favorites : Alone, Crimson Wave, Veil of Sin
BoomStick on July 9th, 2003
Another step in the wrong Direction
Well after hearing the classic greatness of, "Elegy," and, "Tales from the thousand lakes," I was expecting some more dark death metal from Amorphis. Well what, "Am Universum," brings is progressive rock with very slight hinds of metal. This album may be good for you if you like the easier listening stuff with musical instruments like trumpets and other jazz instruments. If you like Classic Amorphis please don’t waste the money on this album.
This album has boring songs that seem to go on forever. The lyrics are uninteresting and the vocals are light and uninspiring. Occasionally you can hear the heavy riffs of the deep Metal guitars, but for the most part it is harmonious easy listening background music.
After the first four songs which are not too bad and have several catchy tunes you come to track # five, "Crimson Wave,” the first 30 seconds are stunning in a good way, you would not have thought that Modern Amorphis was capable of such a thing. The first 30 seconds delivers heavy guitars that play a very catchy tune that sounds great. The rest of the song is a bit boring but still worth listening to.
The remaining five songs on the album are dull and never amount to anything. No good guitar riffs only light slow stuff that slowly plods along and then suddenly ends.
I would advise you to somehow get the song, "Crimson Wave," its worth having but the CD is expensive and not a great buy. If you like easy listening Progressive Rock/metal please buy this album you will like it. But if you like heavy stuff with catchy tunes do what you want but I would not suggest buying it.
This message is for, "Amorphis," please change your logo back to the classic one and start talking about death please... remember the good old days with, "Privilege of Evil," that was a great album.
SufferingOverdue on June 21st, 2003
Great Hybrid Of Progressive Rock And Melodic Metal
This is one of those albums that grow more and more with each listen, and I have a feeling it could end up being one of my all time favourites. The atmosphere on this album is fantastic, very relaxing. The vocals sound powerful and quite mournful at the same time, the guitars aren't really bursting with riffs but more with sounds that compliment the overall atmosphere of the songs, the drums don't really break a sweat but instead carry the songs through at a midpace and the keyboard effects have a distinct Pink Floyd sound at times and add alot of depth to the album. The appearance of saxophone on the album adds a very sophisticated and original sound. Normally brass instruments don't go well with more metallic music but in this case it adds an interesting dimension to the overall feel of the album. The songs here are very layered and incredibly well thought out, alot of hard work has gone into creating these 10 songs. However the complexity does not mean that a catchy song is not possible. Everyone of these songs have potential to get in your head, with their infectious vocal lines, simple and driving guitars and the beautiful use of synths.
I'd recommend this album to pretty much anyway. It's one of the best albums I own and shows that Amorphis truely have reached their musical peak. Excellent work. The best tracks for me are "Alone", "Goddess" and "Veil Of Sin"...but truthfully this is an album best enjoyed as a whole.
Raw_man on February 2nd, 2003
Well, I have to agree mostly with the previous review, but maybe I still have something to add. The strong point of Amorphis is always the ability to write catchy songs. There's no way out - you know that it hardly can be called Metal, that it has saxophone, but the songs stick in your head. Another example that demonstrates that nothing can beat strong songwriting.
I think that with all the huge leaps in style between previous albums, this time there is almost none. Maybe a bit more 70s, the sax, "heavy" vocals are actually never to be found, but otherwise the style didn't change much after Tuonela. Strong organ presence, occasional solos that while not too technical, fit the song perfectly, and catchiness throughout. Here I have to agree with the previous review. Guitar solos are way too occasional! When I think about it, Amorphis never tried to imitate Yngwie, but still I think that more than a couple of songs should have one! Another minus is that some songs I just don't like so much and usually skip - like 'Veil of sin' and 'Goddess of the sad man'.
But the good points are much stronger. The first song, 'Alone' is just incredible - it's head over other songs in the album and it just kicks ass! Also 'The night is over', and 'Forever more' have extremely catch main riffs. The other songs are also quite catchy and there is excellent musicianship throughout. And I am maybe naive, but I really don't know of anyone who plays in similar style.
Overall, I prefer Tuonela a bit over this one, but this album can be really described by the words "solid", "catchy" and "professional". And check out the song 'Alone'!
Crimsonblood on August 27th, 2002
Amorphis using Saxophones??
With Am Universum, Amorphis have once again progressed their sound. The inherit progression of Amorphis has always come naturally, and at this point in their evolutional stage, Amorphis are more Prog Rock than Metal. Don't be alarmed though, this is still an amazing CD that most Metal fans will like. The guitars are very heavy, but not that fast. The vocals are still ruff, but clean: if you're not familiar with Koskinen's vocal style, he doesn't use a vibrato, instead he opts for a very emotional style of clean vocals that have a hardened edge to them. At times he even uses an almost Death Metal styled grunt to accentuate certain vocal lines, but this style is seldom used. Along with the usual Amorphis keyboard sound (strings, piano, and synth) we hear what appears to be a hammond organ (think Spiritual Beggars). It is used very well on "Crimson Wave" and "Forever More". The hammond organ helps add to the 70's psychedelic rock feel that Amorphis was attempting to accomplish in a big way. Along with the heavy guitars there are also some acoustic guitars on "Forever More" and "Veil Of Sin", and U2 styled guitars on a lot of songs including "Alone" and "Drifting Memories" (these two being two of my favorite songs of all time, especially "Alone"). The different styles help to add a lot of feeling and emotion to the music, and that's what Amorphis has always been about.
So while most of the Metal roots of Amorphis are gone, they are still a very heavy band at times, mostly thanks the amazing production. Amorphis continue to add nice melodies to their songs and the pace is generally more up tempo than on Tuonela. However, some songs are still slow, yet none the less very good (the best example is "Grieve Stricken Heart"). One complaint I do have is the lack of guitar leads at times. In place of the guitar leads are saxophone leads. Now, I'm all for innovation and quite frankly the saxophone is used very well in "Drifting Memories" as the sound is almost middle-eastern, but they could have been used a lot more effectively. I would venture to think that some guitar leads on top of the saxophone leads would have been very interesting... perhaps even lead tradeoffs. Point is, while the saxophone doesn't detract too much from the CD, more interesting things could have and should have been done with it. Amorphis have always written very good lyrics and even though the Finnish influence is now mostly gone, they are still powerful.
As a total package, Am Universum is a very solid release that is only hampered by minor details, mostly dealing with things they should have done to add more oomph including the usage of double bass (which is nonexistent). The song writing is at a very high quality, and the repetition demon (taking a break from Power Metal detail) shows up on only a few occasions. So what we have here is a contemporary take on 70's Prog Rock mixed with some metal tendencies and aggressiveness that turned out very well. If you're a fan of Tuonela or Prog music in general, this is worth your time. I'm looking forward to hearing what Amorphis have up their sleeve next.
Song Highlights: Alone, Goddess (Of The Sad Man), Crimson Wave, Drifting Memories, Forever More, and Grieve Stricken Heart
Am Universum track list
|2||Goddess (of the Sad Man)||04:00|
|3||The Night Is Over||04:04|
|8||Veil of Sin||05:10|
|10||Grieve Stricken Heart||06:42|
Am Universum lineup
|Esa Holopainen||Guitars (lead)|
|Tomi Koivusaari||Guitars (rhythm)|