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The Beginning of Times


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Tomi Joutsen, Netta Dahlberg, Savotta Choir (vocals); Esa Holopainen, Tomi Koivusaari (guitar); Iikka Kahri (flute, clarinet, saxophone); Santeri Kallio (keyboards); Jan Rechberger (drums).
  • Audio Mixer: Mikko Karmila.
  • Recording information: Marco's CockPit, Kuopio, Finland; Sonic Pump Studios, Helsinki, Finland.
  • Translator: Erkki Virta.
  • Arranger: Amorphis.
  • Pretty much from the very start, Amorphis' career has been about constant reinvention (hence the name, hello!), and so the Finnish group's albums have traversed the realms of death, folk, progressive, electronic, and psychedelic rock and metal over the past 20 years -- never looking back along the way. Until now. The Beginning of Times isn't entirely correct in its billing because it doesn't quite bring Amorphis full circle to their brutal death metal debut of 1992, The Karelian Isthmus, but rather to its highly influential sophomore successor, 1994's Tales from the Thousand Lakes, which first proved they had something original to say -- something heavily indebted to their country's folk music traditions and tales, yes, but original nonetheless for taking such daring license in blending those exotic, elegant melodies with "vile" extreme metal hallmarks to fascinatingly contrasting effect. So Amorphis obviously sacrifice the element of surprise by going back to the well on this, their tenth studio album, but not the sense of excitement resulting from once again hearing this particular, familiar yet still fresh, combination of unrelated styles, darkness and light, as clean and crude vocals, raw guitars, and swirling keyboards joust playfully all over tracks like "Battle for Light," "You I Need," and "Beginning of Time." Guest vocalist Netta Dahlberg also adds a feminine touch to "Mermaid" and "Soothsayer," and a progressive rock thread reminiscent of the band's latter-day albums is maintained across many tracks, including the Jethro Tull-like vibes of "Song of the Sage" and the all-binding thematic umbrella that sees Amorphis turning yet again to their trusty Kalevala for a story cycle, here inspired by the legendary hero V?in?m?inen. D?j? vu, anyone? Certainly there will be listeners disappointed at Amorphis' creative about-face on The Beginning of Times, but there's no denying its entertainment value and the fact that most of the band's longest-serving fans were probably ready for a nostalgic exercise like this right about now. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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