Animating elements of modern metal, 70s progressive rock and fusing them with a superb sense of melody and structure, Finland’s Amorphis have dared to defy preconceptions with every ground-breaking, acclaimed release. For over 10 years, Amorphis have set the benchmark for others to follow, and with the release of Am Universum the never-ending wave of innovation amazed metal fans and critics the world over.
Formed at the height of the European death metal explosion of the early 1990s, the creative core of AMORPHIS was, from the very beginning, distinctly different. Guitarists Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari, bassist Olli-Pekka Laine and drummer Jan Rechberger had a vision that would forever solidify their labor of love as an international force in heavy music circles. Under that line-up, AMORPHIS recorded two full-lengths: The Karelian Isthmus and Tales from the Thousand Lakes. The progression between albums not only stunned their fans, but also piqued press interest worldwide. In fact, AMORPHIS’ Tales from the Thousand Lakes has sold an excess of 100,000 copies, and continues to sell briskly now that the album has been re-issued with the heralded Black Winter Day EP and the band’s ultra-heavy cover of the DOORS’ classic "Light My Fire."
Like their name, meaning ‘no definite form or shape,’ AMORPHIS would once again shatter boundaries and preconceptions of how heavy music sounded with the release of their third album, Elegy. For Elegy, the resourceful Finns recruited vocalist Pasi Koskinen as well as former Stone drummer Pekka Kasari – the addition of new members further cemented AMORPHIS’ already-stellar line-up of musicians. Re-energized, AMORPHIS penned some of the most memorable melodic metal ever, imperceptibly interweaving a keen sense of melodic structure with harmonies from Finnish folk-song. Elegy featured lyrical inspirations from another classic piece of Finnish literature, the Kanteletar, a book comprised of nearly 700 poems and ballads based on Finnish traditions that have been passed on by word of mouth through the generations. With a great record in the bag, the fans and press went on to proclaim the record as “groundbreaking” and “forward-thinking.” Elegy, like its predecessor, was received well both critically and comercially.
Due to the overwhelming response to Elegy, AMORPHIS recorded the companion mini-album, My Kantele. Featuring the two-part saga The Brother-Slayer and cover versions of KINGSTON WALL’s And I Hear You Call and HAWKWIND’s Levitation, My Kantele signaled new heights for AMORPHIS’ unparalleled songwriting ability.
After two years of touring the world and writing material for the follow-up to Elegy, AMORPHIS released Tuonela. Produced by Simon Efemey (PARADISE LOST, DECEASED), Tuonela added a touch of sublime darkness to the band’s always entrancing melodies. And, for good reason. Tuonela is Finnish for “Hell” or the “Underworld.” Yet, for all of Tuonela’s dark tones, AMORPHIS added new instruments to the dynamic, creating an otherworldly mix of adventurous and saturnine sounds unheard of in heavy music; flute, sitar and saxophone blended seamlessly with the guitarists exceptional fretboard work. AMORPHIS also added session-keyboardist Santeri Kallio, whose textural skills provided a shimmering backdrop for Tuonela.
AMORPHIS’ saga continued to unfold in 2000. Longtime bassist Olli-Pekka Laine left over personal and musical differences while bassist Niclas Etelävuori and session keyboardist Santeri Kallio were welcomed into the fold as full-time members. With a new line-up intact, the intrepid Finns traveled to North America for a headlining tour with Moonspell and The Kovenant supporting. The month-long trek proved to be successful, garnering them more appreciative fans and rave reviews. After completing the North America tour, AMORPHIS returned to Finland to finish writing the follow-up to Tuonela for the remainder of the year.
Back at home in Finland, the inspired quintet created a wealth of new colorful songs, all of which displayed AMORPHIS’ penchant for innovative symphonic hard rock. Am Universum, the band’s fifth full-length, saw AMORPHIS move towards a more pensive sound, using their awe-inspiring lead work and keyboard laments to sway listeners with subtle grace and proficiency. Again produced by Simon Efemey, Am Universum features AMORPHIS’ trademark sound, using energetic swatches of saxophone to round out the band’s compositional dynamic. Brave as ever, the release of Am Universum showed with remarkable ease that AMORPHIS are not only are they one of metal’s finest outfits, but they are also one of the genre’s most unpredictable. AMORPHIS are currently signed to Nuclear Blast Records and are set to release their latest opus, "Silent Waters" in 2007.