The stakes always are raised to the sky when a legend sets out to record a new album. There are but a few formations that still work with energy and power, and that`s exactly what the worldwide acknowledged experimenters Amorphis stand for today. The year 2011 marks their 10th studio release, and questions caused by the title “The Beginning of Times” are more or less to be expected: how far does the gaze of the Finns reach, what´s the essence of such a dynamic legacy after numerous style changes? What position will the new album occupy next to world-shattering titles as “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”, “Tuonela”, “Silent Waters”? Does the new opus really mark a new beginning?
After its most pretentious times, the band reached a comfortable niche with “Eclipse”, “Silent Waters” and “Skyforger” thanks to Tomi Joutsen - one of the most versatile voices that you`ll ever have the pleasure to hear. The lyrical melancholy and the expressive approach to the most beautiful music from The Land of the Thousand Lakes today gets a new sharp turn. “The Beginning of Times” is a demanding album which might prove quite difficult to swallow before you get the message. Which is, as always, plain and simple - Amorphis doesn`t recognize any limits, not even after a well-guaranteed immortality. In its nature, the album is their most balladic and progressive work to date - more wayward and elegiac, at times more touching than the Swan Song of the “Silent Waters”, more dangerous than the God of Fire from “Eclipse” and far more complicated than the fate of the Skyforger himself.
The protagonist here is none other than Väinämöinen - a central figure from the Finnish “Kalevala” epos. The `biblical` opener “Battle for Light” summons the well-known forger Ilmarinen, and the band starts its own pilgrimage anew. There are tons of impressive cascades of keys, stunning melodies, folk elements and thunderous cries of Tomi who stretches his vocal chords to the limit via clamorous growls in nearly 7 out of 12 songs - a tradition that almost died in the last few records of the band. Female backing vocals and virtuoso keyboards by Santeri Kallio forge out “Mermaid” as a future hit classic, crowned with one of many key-solos in the Pink Floyd spirit. The warlike “My Enemy” depicts the rivalry between Väinämöinen and Joukahainen - just like the legendary musicians who measure their skills with each other, Amorphis challenge their own fans with the nix Aino from the single “You I Need” as a price. The power metal spirit of “Song of the Sage” is dedicated to the kantele, the instrument made of a giant pike`s jaw with which the immortal bard shapes the world in “Three Words”, “Reformation” and the progressive “Soothsayer” backed up with female chants. The everlasting search for a bride in the ocean´s depths continues in the elegy “On a Stranded Shore” which could`ve easily been taken straight off “Skyforger” for all its aerial beauty while the will to live and death`s denial on “Escape” yield to a pure symphonic feast on “Crack in a Stone” - majestically extended and heavy composition combining both past and present of the band. “Beginning of Time” is the last curtain call with its anxiously oldschool prog-rock sound marked by breathtaking keys, guitars, acoustics and vocals changing constantly, just as the restless ocean of oblivion engulfs the myth of Väinämöinen… so that he can be born anew through Amorphis` musical prism.
This is the story of the anniversary album of the Finns - not so different from their own but they`re already past the point of becoming living legends. Such is the privilege of the true storytellers, charged with the responsibility to enrich the entire world`s knowledge in most peculiar ways, keeping the sparkle of the ancient myths as vital as it once was. With “The Beginning of Times”, Amorphis once again add a new chapter to their splendid history which will still be there for generations to come.