ALBUM OF THE DAY: AMORPHIS, ECLIPSE
Lately melodic death hasn’t been impressing anyone, including myself. And so I thought I’d take a look back at a record that never fails to give me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Sure, everyone has a big ol’ boner for Tales from the Thousand Lakes, but the Amorphis album I prefer is the less-favored Eclipse. No offence to Lakes — I could muster a pretty impressive showing of lady wood for that album, too — but Eclipse? Ah, Eclipse!
“Two Moons” starts the album off with an almost psychedelic keyboard intro that’s a little gimmicky, I admit, but it’s also the first time we hear Tomi Joutsen’s voice. Eclipse marked Joutsen’s first album with Amorphis, and it was also a reintroduction of the death growl into their music. It’s not used liberally, but, rather, as a contrast to the prettier, melodic segments, it’s kind of wonderful. Especially in “Leaves Scar.” The verses are all grunted out, but the chorus is a harmony of guitars, growls, and softer vocals.
Eclipse might be a little too folksy for some, but that folksiness works with the general feel of the record. The album’s lyrics are mostly based around “Kullervo,” a legend taken from the Finnish epic poem, “The Kalevala.” Focusing on the character of Kullervo himself, it’s the story of a normal boy who, through events and misdeeds, becomes a vengeful, immoral man. He’s known as the only irredeemably tragic character in Finnish mythology. (I’m a mythology nerd, can you tell?)
“Born From Fire” is what sealed the deal for me. I can’t help but think of this album as “pretty” in terms of how it sounds. But that’s not completely fair, as the harder elements are quite present. I’ve always been an advocate of hard and fast vs. slow and soft, so, of course, this song hooked me pretty quickly. The pounding drums and deeper vocals give it such a dark and beautiful tone.
“Perkele (God of Fire),” who is, if we’re getting technical, really the god of thunder. As we established, I am a mythology nerd but the song itself is a close second. Again, I’m not too thrilled about the trippy keyboard intros, but since they’re quite understated they don’t become too annoying. The epic, soaring vocals with the shrieking guitar solos combine to bring it to such a powerful end. It leads right into the simple piano intro of “The Smoke,” and again, the guitars aren’t too far behind.
I love the balance of this record. It never errs too much on either side of hard or soft. In fact, it seamlessly mixes the two. It’s a record that I can have as background noise or something I can sit and give my full attention to. The last song of the album is a pretty good example of this dynamic range within a single song. “Empty Opening” starts off slow and grim, but the melody itself is sung in a clear, non-growly way that really shows off Joutsen’s range.
Although I quite hate the artwork, the record itself is probably my favorite.