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Amorphis began their career as a fairly standard death metal band from Finland. Since their debut album, The Karelian Isthmus, their musical style has slowly morphed into a combination of progressive/space rock and power metal.

The Karelian Isthmus, released in 1992, gained the group positive notices in several metal publications with its brutal, yet original guitar riffs. That Amorphis had talent was beyond doubt, but no one could have predicted the stylistic shift of their next album, Tales from the Thousand Lakes. Their sophomore effort of 1994 was still predominantly death metal, but it was much more melodic than the group's debut, utilizing keyboards, as well as a singer on parts of the album. Even more impressive, the album was conceptually based on the Kalevala, a book of Finnish national poetry dating back to medieval times.

1996 saw the release of the band's third CD, Elegy. The album continued the band's progression towards a more eclectic sound, and, as such, was a total mindbomb. Vocal duties on Elegy were split between Tomi Koivusaari, who had growled on the band's previous efforts, and the newly added Pasi Koskinen, who handled the actual singing. The contrast between the former's forceful death metal vocals and the latter's distinctive tenor gave the album a dynamic not found elsewhere. Contributing to this dynamic was the diverse instrumentation, featuring that standard implement of metal chaos, the sitar (which begins and ends the album). The lyrics came almost directly from another traditional Finnish tome, the Kanteletar, and offered a fascinating glimpse in the cares and troubles of the Finns of yore. A sample, from the track "My Kantele" (according to the liner notes, a kantele was an ancient musical instrument similar to a guitar):
Truly they lie, they talk utter nonsense
Those who say that music reckon that the kantele
Was fashioned by God from the great pike's shoulders;
From the waterdog's crooked bones, it was molded from sorrow.
After Elegy, the group subsequently released the My Kantele EP, which featured a cover of Hawkwind's "Levitation," as well as the epic song "The Brother Slayer".

Then, in 1999, the group released Tuonela, a compelling depiction of the Finnish underworld. The album's sound continued the shift away from death metal, as only one song on the CD, "Greed", featured Koivusaari's trademark growl. Although the songs on Tuonela featured flutes and a saxophone, the tracks were less melodic than those on Elegy, as the band was apparently trying to achieve a more hypnotic, psychadelic effect. On some parts of the album, they succeed (most notably on "Morning Star" and "Summer's End"), while on other parts, the music becomes quite dense. Although Tuonela takes many more listens than its predecessor to comprehend, it holds it own against the rest of the band's previous material.

2001's Am Universum is easily the catchiest of the group's work. Were it not for the echoing synths and spacey guitars, as well as the recurring flutes and woodwinds that occasionally drift into the music, one could almost accuse the band of writing conventional rock songs! The only reminders of the group's past, in fact, are the crushing guitar riffs that give tracks like "Drifting Memories" and "Grieve Stricken Heart" an unexpected kick in the pants. Although the album is not quite as consistent as Elegy and Tuonela, the high points of the album are still dominant, making Am Universum one of the best metal discs of 2001.

Their next album, Far From the Sun, was released in May of 2003 in most of Europe. It will be released in the UK and America in late summer, and in Japan sometime during the autumn months. The band's sound on this recording is very similar to that on Tuonela and Am Universum, with diverse instrumentation, a neo-space rock atmosphere, and Koskinen's edgy voice giving the music weight. Unfortunately, there aren't are many hooks in the songs as there were on their previous CD. Far From the Sun is not a wash, however. The best pieces on the album ("Day of Your Beliefs" and the title track are examples) have a traditional, almost Celtic feel to them thanks to Holopainen's lilting guitar lines. The lesser songs, much like those on Tuonela get better once their musical twists and turns become more familiar to the listeners. Lyrically, the album deals with death, pain, and hate. "God of Deception," for example, deals with suicide, discussing the resulting grief and feelings of betrayal. Whereas "Day of Your Beliefs" tells of an afterlife contrary to that indicated by the religions of the world. And the final track, "Smithereens," discusses the negative consequences of giving into hate and spite. All in all, a worthy addition to the Amorphis canon. The band is currently touring sporadically, primarily playing summer festivals, presumably in preparation for an as of yet unannounced tour supporting Far From the Sun.

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