Amorphis — Am Universum
(Nuclear Blast NB 535-2, 2001, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2001-12-01
Back when I was in my early teens, I went through a phase where I liked heavy metal. Black Sabbath’s Paranoid was my favorite LP. That phase didn’t last very long, and I haven’t followed the genre much since. If I hadn’t read about Finland’s Amorphis, this bit of my history would be irrelevant: without knowing that Amorphis started life as a metal band, I would not have guessed. I may catch hell for saying this, but Am Universum reminds me more than anything of a heavier version of Porcupine Tree’s lush style. The vocals aren’t as breathy as Steven Wilson’s, and the guitar solos are not reminiscent of David Gilmour, but the overall sound has a noticeable similarity, with lots of wah-wah, phase shift, and keyboards more atmosphere than lead, favoring older sounds like Hammond, piano, and analog melodies. The songwriting is good, with a variety of tempos and moods, with melodies that stick in the head after they’re gone. “Veil of Sin” is the slower tune of the set, and starts with acoustic guitar and piano, and adds sax later on as a decidedly non-metal touch. There’s also a distinct resemblance to some other Scandinavian bands I’ve heard, like Book of Hours, Qoph, or a little Five Fifteen, though it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is. I haven’t really delved into the lyrics, but most of them seem non-irritating, though “Goddess (of the Sad Man)” gets pretty close to the realm of silly pretense.
Related artist(s): Amorphis
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more