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Amorphis - "Circle" (CD)

Amorphis - "Circle" CD cover image

"Circle" track listing:

1. Shades of Gray
2. Mission
3. The Wanderer
4. Narrow Path
5. Hopeless Days
6. Nightbird’s Song
7. Into the Abyss
8. Enchanted by the Moon
9. A New Day

Reviewed by on April 19, 2013

"...['Circle'] ditches the themes of traditional Finnish mythology and changes up the formula for a more aggressive take on the prog-metal combo Amorphis has been playing with for several albums now."

After the extremely catchy (and, in some cases, even poppy) previous album “The Beginning of Times,” Amorphis looks to reestablish itself as a force to be reckoned with in the extreme metal world on new opus “Circle.” This 11th full-length from the pioneering outfit ditches the themes of traditional Finnish mythology and changes up the formula for a more aggressive take on the prog-metal combo Amorphis has been playing with for several albums now.

“Circle” starts off immediately on a more aggressive note with “Shades of Grey,” and while there is some downtime across the tracks, the disc as a whole is much heavier than “The Beginning of Times.” There’s no “Mermaid” or “You I Need” type track this time around, with the closest thing arriving on the calmer ending track “A New Day.”

Even with the heavier and darker sound, surprisingly the vocal breakdown hasn’t changed much. There’s still more of a focus on clean singing with the growls present, but used fairly infrequently. A subtle shift in production from the last album makes a big difference here, as the sound is more big and booming, and the guitars are a little lower in the mix, creating an overall heavy haze in the background.

On the folk and prog front, Amorphis does continue to experiment with non-metal sounds, like the flutes showing up on “Nightbird’s Song.” There are some keyboards on tracks like “Into the Abyss,” and even church organ in the background of “Hopeless Days,” but you definitely won’t be hearing any “Am Unversum”-level synths.

The sound is undeniably heavier this time around, but “Circle” still continues firmly in the vein of the preceding few releases. If you think Amorphis peaked with “Tales from the Thousand Lakes,” then skip this one, as not enough has changed to win that crowd over. However, if “Skyforger” and “The Beginning of Times” worked for you, get this album at the earliest possibility.

Highs: A heavier take on the folk/prog/metal combination.

Lows: The ending track drags a bit, and in some cases, it seems like the band doesn't go far enough in any one stylistic direction.

Bottom line: Amorphis continues its prog/folk/metal combo, but this time with more aggression and heaviness.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)