Amorphis – Eclipse (2006) Album Review

When you want to describe Amorphis before the Tomi Joutsen you speak about one of the best album released by this band, if not, the best album released by a Finnish band in the 1990s and that is Tales From The Thousand Lakes released back in 1992, the second album ever released by this band, an album that would gather a lot of fans from many countries and would build a solid fan-base loyal to this band. This album did not feature vocals done by Pasi Koskinen, who was only hired from Elegy (1996) a rather good follow-up of this album but still inferior in contrast with it’s predecessor, but we speak about Tomi Koivussari, one of the original founding members of the band, who contributed with splendid vocal performance in this album. He attracted more attention with his raspy and rather raw grunting vocals in a song who also had a privilege to be one of the few songs who would benefit from a video, Black Winter Day, one of the most requested and probably, one of the most popular and most performed track by this band.

Years passed, and Pasi Koskinen joined the band, placing Tomi Koivussari as guitar only player, after he completely took control of the vocal part in the albums that were about to come, all until 2004, when he suddenly decided to put an end to his days in Amorphis to concentrate on other projects such as Ajattara (under the alias I. Ruoja Suruntuoja), Mannhai or To Separate The Flesh From Bones (under the alias Herr Arschstein). Shit changed when the band announced the arrival of another vocalist, who impressed the audience with a splendid album while playing in a gothic metal project Sinisthra back in 2005, I think the album was called Last Of The Stories Of Long Past Glories. After hearing this record I realized why Amorphis decided to hire this vocalist, his clean vocals were much more impressive and much more spectacular and atmospheric compared with the performances given in the past by Pasi Koskinen or Tomi Koivussari. I am not saying that they were inferior, but Tomi Joutsen was the perfect man for what Amorphis was preparing to unravel. He did not only had the voice that Amorphis needed, he also had the attitude that would impress the audience too. Sweet mellow clean vocals combined with bear like growled vocals that would make you shit in your pants especially when you hear the re-recorded version of Black Winter Day from the 2010 album Magic and Mayhem: Tales From The Early Years.

What perfect album to promote such a voice would be needed, other than Eclipse? Eclipse was the perfect album for the start of a new era for Amorphis, and the perfect album that would make Tomi Joutsen’s voice heard by the masses. Now I am sure that there are many contesting Tomi Joutsen’s performance and I do not pity them, with an album like Tales From The Thousand Lakes it is hard to move forward changing three vocalists in 20 years of existence and releasing relatively good album. Something that needs to be mentioned is that Amorphis did not release an album that would make them feel shame, none of them were bad compositions, some of them were better than others, others could not be compared with predecessors, but this is how it is in a band that changes vocalists so many times. Tales From The Thousand Lakes was Tomi Koivussari’s best, Tuonela (1999) was Pasi Koskinen’s best and Eclipse is Tomi Joutsen’s best as well but an album that had some pretty good follow-ups too.

Amorphis always used Kalevala (a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology) as the main source of inspiration for every album, featuring several songs with lyrics specially taken from these poems. However, unlike previous album that had songs featuring such lyrics, Eclipse is an original work, not taking any lyrics from the epic poetry but rather coming up with their own compositions however, compositions based on the Kullervo legend the ill-fated son of Kalervo. He is the only irredeemably tragic character in Finnish mythology. It was written by written by Finnish poet and playwright Paavo Haavikko in 1982.

In Eclipse we find epic songs, that managed to impress a new generation of fans adding a much wider audience to their fan-base. I consider Eclipse as the album that launched Amorphis towards mainstream, but not that kind of shameless mainstream attention but a mainstream attention that they earned through their compositions, commitment and passion to compose good music and not the mindless music that many mainstream bands have offered recently (pointing at Metallica with their newest 2011 atrocity). For a intro song, Two Moons is not that impressive, nor in sound, except for Tomi’s voice that begins to show his awesomeness and talented sound nor in lyrical content, however, the whole album takes a 180 degrees turn with the song House of Sleep, a song that combines the classic sonorities of the 70s and 80s and adapt it to modern times infusing a modern sound specific in the Amorphis music. Tomi Joutsen’s performance is the one that shines the most in this song, this is the song that probably made him extremely popular on his debut album as Amorphis’s singer.

Leaves Scar begins in an melodic way and then turns rather serious. Acoustic guitars are present at the beginning of this song accompanied by some folk instrumentals as well which are then blended into a pretty serious instrumental. This song features growled vocals performed by Tomi Joutsen as well as clean vocals, basically this song follows a certain pattern, growled vocals for lyrics and clean vocals for chorus, the same pattern repeating itself until the end of the song. Born From Fire is yet another song where Tomi Joutsen sends some of the most beautiful vocal performance, then descending into the 5th track entitled Under a Soil & a Black Storm.

By far, the most impressive performance this band gave in the second half of this album is on the song The Smoke, which as well as House of Sleep, also has a video. It is the follow-up from Perkele (The God of Fire one of the most aggressive songs from this album) and probably the most amazing song of this album. Place Tomi Joutsen with Tomi Koivussari, both of them contributing with vocal performances on this song and you have one magic duo, thus a splendid performance and and a memorable audible experience. This song features also one of the most impressive guitar solo’s featured on this album. This is the kind of song that gives you a certain addiction. I came in contact with this album through this song and House of Sleep and it was really a pain in the ass for me to stop clicking the replay button. Even now, after more than 5 years since I first listened to this album, I still feel nostalgia over these songs and still give them a listen for the sake of old times.

Same Flesh and Brother Moon continue this album, presenting the most of what is capable Tomi Joutsen, the second one offers a more folk like performance than the other songs and features a change in attitude in Tomi’s performance. It is like he is ordering the audience to do what he says, to say what he says and to see what he see’s, a truly enchanting singer. The album continues with the longest track featured on it, Empty Opening and it ends brilliantly with the bonus track featured on the American release of the House of Sleep single, Stone Woman.

To reach a conclusion, if you want to listen one of the best performances Amorphis had to offer, look no further, Eclipse is probably the best they have to offer. It is hard for me to claim that this is the best album they ever come up with, but it is a serious rival for the previous ones. Surely, a superior of Pasi Koskinen’s Tuonela but rather fights on par with Tomi Koivussari’s Tales From The Thousand Lakes. I have been a long fan of Amorphis and I have always felt the chills whenever they would release a new record, especially since Tomi Joutsen joined this group. A new level of awesomeness was added to this band and on live performances this band is as good if not better than in studio records. Tomi Joutsen is a man that can drive the audience mad and can make them blend with the atmosphere that he unleashes. A very talented musician as well as a great showman. I wish you guys would experience his performance too, like I did, believe me you will regret if you ever give them the cold shower. This new record just makes you lust for more. Just go with this one, you won’t regret it!

Overall Impression: 98/100