2015’s Under a Red Cloud still gets regular airplay at Grim Reader HQ, It’s truly an album I love from start to finish. To say I’ve been excited about the release of Queen of Time is a massive understatement, and now it has finally arrived. Under a Red Cloud sounded huge, and to my absolute delight, Queen of Time sounds even bigger. Amorphis has upped the ante on this new album in every department. The guitar melodies are just incredible on this record. They are varied, soaring, complex, but above all they are memorable. The rhythm section doesn’t sit back and play second fiddle, instead choosing to weave in and out of several songs with interesting and often progressively complex patterns of sound. The keys and orchestration, the choirs, the use of a range of other instruments simply add layer upon layer of musical majesty to this incredible album.
The beating heart of the band is, of course, vocalist Tomi Joutsen. Joutsen’s performance on Queen of Time is quite simply mesmerizing. His clean singing is soulful, heartfelt and full of fire and passion, and as for his growl….wow! I thought he sounded incredible on the Hallatar album No Stars Upon The Bridge, but here, Joutsen surely cements himself as one of the great metal vocalists of modern time. Just wait until you hear him duet with the fabulous Anneke Van Giersbergen on the epic Amongst Stars.
The two lead-in singles from this album gave us a glimpse as to what we were in for. The opening track, The Bee, is already a classic in my opinion; a song that gets better and better with repeated listens, it’s a song that reveals something new with each spin and I get a shiver down my spine whenever I hear it. Wrong Direction feels like a natural progression from Under a Red Cloud. It is a memorable song with an almost poppy feel to it. I guarantee you will not be able to get the chorus out of your head for weeks!
Elsewhere, Message in the Amber is a more folk-infused track that also makes use of a choir, and yes, it’s as good as it sounds. Daughter of Hate has a bizarre but brilliant saxophone solo and Heart of a Giant is as big a track as you’d imagine. There really isn’t a dud amongst the whole album, it’s quite simply brilliant.
It will take something truly monumental to usurp Queen of Time from my album of the year spot. What a year this is turning out to be for metal music. All hail Amorphis.
Pick up a copy from Nuclear Blast Records NOW!