This Finnish band refused an offer by Osmose Production and signed with Relapse Records on the strength of their Disment Of Soul demo (recorded on January 3 and 4, 1991) featuring Disment Of Soul, Excursing From Existence and Privilege Of Evil. At this point the band described itself as "pure death metal with some horrified synth parts." The band had gotten its first taste of the music business and was crossing out the name of Steve and Seraphic Decay Records by hand from the demo's 'Thanks List' following the release of a 7" of Abhorrence by the American rip-off label.
Relapse planned a split album of Amorphis and Incantation which never materialized (some of this Carcass-influenced material appeared later as The Privilege Of Evil MCD).
Following a 7", the band travelled to Sweden's Sunlight Studio and recorded The Karelian Isthmus. The band is gravitating towards Finnish folklore thematically and synth-oriented folk musically and now featured a keyboardist. With the band's ever-growing commercial orientation and unique Finnish stance, Amorphis was soon a hit and even the cause of some friction between issuing label Relapse and its European partner Nuclear Blast. The cover for Tales From The Thousand Lake was also a source of aggravation for the band as far from depicting Finland, the cover showed a mountainous land. Finland is completely flat.
The band filmed two videos for In The Beginning and Black Winter Day in Germany (as seen on the Death Is Just The Beginning sampler), completed its first tour opening for Gorefest in Europe and even recorded a track for a Tribute To The Doors CD which Relapse was planning, but due to legal difficulties never released. Amorphis consequently gained more popularity with its 70's-oriented compositions and concentrated on the ancient Finnish tale book The Kalevela.
Elegy entered the German charts at number 67 and the band hasn't looked back (at metal) since. In early 2002 Peka Kasari left the band and was replaced by original drummer Jan Rechberger. The band explained that Kasari intended to spend more time with his family at home.
Amorphis recorded a new song called Kuusamo for the soundtrack to the Finnish film Menolippu Mombasaan in 2002. In 2003 Amorphis' Niclas Etelavouri would be loaned to Moonspell in order to record the next album with the latter band who had lost its own bassist. Far From The Sun was released by EMI in Finland. The album hit the Finnish Top-10. The album was licensed to Nuclear Blast for a North American release a year later. The band also announced a tour as openers for Type O Negative for the USA. Singer Koskinen dropped out at this point and was quickly replaced by Charon's singer Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto for live dates. A little later the Type O Negative tour was cancelled when that band's singer was ordered to take further medical exams. The band added singer Tomi Joutsen of Nevergreen to the band's line-up in late 2004 and signed to Nuclear Blast Records in 2005. The band was rehearsing and writing new songs for its next album, and follow-up to Far From The Sun, in the winter and spring aiming to issue it on Nuclear Blast in September. On July first, the band entered Sonic Pump studio in Helsinki to start the recording process. Producers were Nino Laurenne for instruments and Marco Hietala for vocals. Mikko Karmila took care of the mixing. "The new Amorphis material will be heavier than ever", the band explained. "There will be an epic theme throughout the album, influenced by Finnish tradition." Eclipse, was issued on February 17th, 2006 through Nuclear Blast Records. A single called House Of Sleep was issued in January. Silent Waters, released in late summer, was based on a part from Finland's national epic, the Kalevala. Tomi Joutsen made a guest appearance on Carrion, the debut album by Jensuu-based “modern thrashers” Discard. Amorphis, Samael, Leaves Eyes and Virgin Black were touring Canada and the USA in October of 2008. Amorphis has picked Skyforger as the title for its next album, which was out on May 29th through Nuclear Blast Records. Amorphis released a live DVD, Forging The Land Of Thousand Lakes, in June 2010 through Nuclear Blast to commemorate the band's 20th anniversary. The footage stemmed from November 20th, 2009 at Club Teatria in Oulu, Finland. Amorphis' Majestic Beasts - Tales From The Early Years, renamed Magic & Mayhem - Tales From Rhe Early Years, from 2010 was a collection of re-recorded versions of the Finnish band's early music. The band's first three albums 1992's Karelian Isthmus, 1994's Tales From The Thousand Lakes and 1996's Elegy were featured. Amorphis’ The Beginning Of Times was due on May 27th 2011 through Nuclear Blast Records. You I Need was the name of the album’s single.
Amorphis, Stratovarius, Grave Digger, Coroner and others were confirmed for the 2012 edition of the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise ship, which would set sail from Miami, Florida to Cayman Islands on January 23rd, 2012 and return four days later. A total of 40 acts were to perform on this cruise. Amorphis’ The Beginning Of Times entered the German Media Control chart at position Number 16, which was the band’s best chart position ever in that country. Amorphis will played an acoustic show at Sampomäki in Sammatti, Finland on July 1st, 2012. Sampomäki was the birthplace of Elias Lönnrot, the man who compiled the Finnish national prose The Kalevala, which Amorphis had often adopted for its lyrics. Amorphis picked Circle as the title for its next album, which is due on April 19th, 2013 through Nuclear Blast Records. The concept album was recorded by Hypocrisy and Pain man Peter Tägtgren. Amorphis would commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 1994’s Tales From The Thousand Lakes album by performing it in its entirety on an European tour in December. Support would come from Swedish band Avatarium.
AMORPHIS - FAR FROM THE SUN - EMI FINLAND/NUCLEAR BLAST
Amorphis became an irrelevant force on the heavy metal scene years ago and Far From The Sun does not propose to change that. The album was released in Europe a year ago and has now been given a North American release by Century Media.
The music is a mixture of soft/pop/psychedelic rock and takes after Pink Floyd, The Doors and Tea Party. The structure of the album is moody, elaborate and textured, but what any of that has to do with heavy metal is an enigma. For Far From The Sun is equally distant from the band's metal roots and is only of interest to an eternal devotee. The album features a video for the song Far From The Sun. - Ali "The Metallian"
AMORPHIS – ECLIPSE – NUCLEAR BLAST
It is a big surprise to me that Amorphis circa 2006 is not only listenable, but also enjoyable. The Finns had pulled a big one on their fans more than ten years ago and had become irrelevant in metal circles soon thereafter.
Eclipse benefits from good songs and a turn to the heavy side. The epic, partly ethnic and melodic parts are unexpectedly satisfactory and more; thus accounting for the former quality. The increase in the guitar level, harder melodies and reintroduction of impressive growls on selected songs propel Eclipse to the next level. What a surprise given how the first few chords out of the album were the sounds of a keyboard solo signalling another abysmal experience.
Especially noteworthy is the album’s second half. Past the mellow Under A Soil And Black Stone the album begins to get progressively heavier until Same Flesh, Brother Moon and Empty Opening really bring home the bacon. Leaves Scar and Empty Opening are especially remarkable for the convincing growls, while Perkele (The God Of Fire) almost smacks of The Karelian Isthmus album days.
Amorphis has undergone several changes in the last two years including the introduction of a new man on vocals. These have borne fruit for the band, the fans and the sales and credibility factors. – Anna Tergel
AMORPHIS – SILENT WATERS – NUCLEAR BLAST
Having forgotten to write acceptable or good music for a decade Amorphis has had to dig into its early period in order to come up with melodies that are interesting and powerful. Silent Waters is the follow-up to the 2006 full-length album Eclipse in both sequence and tone. The emotive cover artwork is thoughtful and beautiful and was apparently once thought of as inadequate given my CD’s notice that it is “provisional.” Tomi Joutsen sets out with both clean and growled vocals to accompany the heavier tones in the music. The keyboards have been pushed back like a bastard child, which exists but is nonetheless not made the centre of attention. The song A Servant, for example, is reminiscent of the music of 1994’s Tales From The Thousand Lakes another album whose lyrics were inspired by the Kalevala, a collection of Finnish poetry. See how Amorphis has had to dig into the and its past?
Silent Waters is still a wholly inadequate metal album, but in a world of relativism offers up some modicum of acceptability amidst the mostly poppy folksy music of Amorphis. – Ali “The Metallian”
Formed out of the ashes of several death/grind bands (the most notable of which being Abhorrence who put out a 7” EP through the shady Seraphic Decay Records) roaming the ‘thousand lakes’ of Finland in the late ‘80s, after a mere month of rehearsals, Amorphis (the name is simply a corruption of ‘amorphous’) unleashed its debut and only demo Disment Of Souls. Quickly gaining the attention of the up-start Relapse Records in the USA, the band headed into the studio to record the B-side of a planned split album with Incantation. When the project was shelved (due to Relapse’s lack of distributors at the time), the label asked the band to proceed with recording a full-length. Recorded at Sweden’s Sunlight Studio under the guidance of Thomas Skogsberg, The Karelian Isthmus was released in 1992. The album showcased the band’s drastic change of styles – from grindcore to melodic/epic doom. Both the fans and the label were surprised. The band, however, having not been deterred, enlisted the aid of a permanent keyboardist in order to further solidify the newfound emphasis on melody. Ali “The Metallian” interviews Amorphis guitarist Esa. – 1994
Having just released their second full-length, Tales from A Thousand Lakes, the band, comprised of Tomi Koivvsaari (vocals and guitars). Esa Holopainen (guitars), Olli-Pekka Laine (bass), Jan Rechberger (drums) and keyboardist Kasper Mortenson, are eager to promote their strategic sophomore effort.
ESA HOLOPAINEN: Our Album was actually supposed to be called Swan Songs, but we decided to drop it as My Dying Bride’s album was called Turn Loose The Swans. We chose (the name) Tales From a Thousand Lakes because it tells what our lyrics about.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Your lyrics are inspired by the national book of Finland. What can you tell us about it, and don’t you worry that perhaps the contents may be of little or no interest to the non-Finnish fans?
ESA HOLOPAINEN: The book is actually one of poetry. It is full of short poems – hundreds of them! About one hundred years ago a Finnish writer compiled all these poems from different times into this book. This book became the national Finnish book, as it talks about the Finnish tradition. It’s very interesting. We hope actually, that this way people might become interested in Finland. Elsewhere, people do not know much about Finland and this could be a way for them to become interested in our country.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Since your last album, you have opted for the inclusion a full-time keyboardist. Are you worried that you’ll get lumped in with all the other similarly oriented bands out there?
ESA HOLOPAINEN: Following (the release of) The Karelian lsthmus we asked Kasper, whom we knew from before, to accompany us on stage in order to play the keyboard parts at shows. We noticed that he can really play and subsequently asked him to join our band. We are happy as he is really good. Our keyboards give more power to the music. It’s more like effects for Amorphis. We are different from bands like My Dying Bride, et cetra because they play really slowly, and it is sometimes really boring.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: So, what do you guys listen to at home?
ESA HOLOPAINEN: I don’t listen to too much death metal. I don’t think the rest of the band does either. I like mostly old bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and some Finnish folk music.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: That’s quite different from a few years ago when you guys were very much into the death/grind underground sounds.
ESA HOLOPAINEN: Yes, you are right. To tell you the truth, we were going to split up after recording what was supposed to be a split album (now released as The Privilege of Evil mini-album)! We weren’t so interested in rehearsing. But when Relapse asked us to record a full-length for them and we started writing songs for it, we suddenly noticed that we have a new style, which we are very happy with. It was because we had started to listen to new styles of music. We were surprised that Relapse liked our new style because they liked the older material, which we thought was total crap! Anyway, these days the underground is really funny. It’s really full of black metal kids. I read all the letters I get, but I hardly have any time to answer! Here in Finland we have a couple of good bands: Xysma’s new one is called Deluges. You gotta hear it. I also like Disgrace though unfortunately their album is not coming out because their label (Modern Primitive in France) has no money! There is also Convulse who recorded their album a long time ago and are waiting for Relapse to release it.
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: Not unlike yourselves who had to wait similarly a long time. Problems with the cover of Tales From A Thousand Lakes were partially responsible for the delayed release. What happened?
ESA HOLOPAINEN: There were more than two covers actually! We like the final cover, but I wanted it more psychedelic, not this fantasy thing. But this is OK. If we hadn’t chosen this one, the album would have been delayed even more. We don’t know the artist, actually (Canadian artist S.V. Bell who has worked with Impaled Nazarene and Rotting Christ among others).
ALI “THE METALLIAN”: The dusk of this interview has arrived. The final words are yours.
ESA HOLOPAINEN: I think a lot of kids who are not into death metal, but rather melodic stuff can get very much into our Relapse album. Be open-minded.
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 11.