AMOR­PHIS

Fin­nish prog met­allers throw the kitchen sink at widescreen al­bum.

Prog - - The Musical Box - FrAser Lewry

The Bee, the open­ing track from Amor­phis’ 13th al­bum Queen Of Time, starts with some trick­ery, as a dis­tant vo­cal ush­ers in some wob­bling, Banco de Gaia-style trance. It doesn’t take long for the jagged gui­tar riffs that dom­i­nate the al­bum to as­sert them­selves, though. Throw in sev­eral key changes to heighten the song’s tow­er­ing scale, rapid switches be­tween clean singing and de­monic growls, plus a turn from the great kar­gy­raa-style throat singer Al­bert Ku­vezin – leader of Tu­van folk punk band Yat-Kha – and you’re left with a song that doesn’t so much

THE KIND OF THING

GENGHIS KHAN MIGHT HAVE USED TO ROUSE HIS TROOPS.

take on Led Zep­pelin’s Kash­mir as tear up the tem­plate and dress it up for sac­ri­fice.

Mes­sage In The Am­ber is jaun­tier, with a folky, Nordic riff, gal­lop­ing rhythms and the un­ex­pected ar­rival of a nearce­les­tial choir towards the cli­max. Daugh­ter Of Hate has its roots in black metal, but con­founds ex­pec­ta­tions with a sax­o­phone solo, some spooky chant­ing and a gen­uinely sin­is­ter spo­ken in­ter­lude from lyri­cist Pekka Kain­u­lainen. The Golden Elk keeps things rac­ing along be­fore sweep­ing strings and Span­ish gui­tar add an un­ex­pected plot twist and it all sub­sides with gen­tly tum­bling pi­ano.

Wrong Direc­tion is less ag­gres­sive that most of Queen Of Time, and may be an easier point of en­try for prog fans wary of the band’s metal­lic roots – there’s even some flute! – although the growls even­tu­ally return.

Heart Of The Gi­ant can­ters along in re­laxed fash­ion be­fore the strings zoom in and the choir takes over, and wild gui­tar solo fol­lows wild key­board solo un­til it ap­pears as if the song is en­gaged in a gi­ant game of one-up­man­ship with it­self. The En­nio Mor­ri­cone-tinged We Ac­cursed fol­lows, an up­lift­ing, ride-into-the-sun­set al­bum cli­max that isn’t. Because Grain Of Sand fol­lows, with a grind­ing riff, an ex­ul­tant cho­rus and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it choral in­ter­lude that could have been torn straight from the pages of Jon An­der­son’s Olias Of Sun­hil­low. Dutch singer An­neke van Giers­ber­gen shows up on the rous­ing Amongst Stars, while Pyres On The Coast soars and spits and wa­vers, and in­cludes a bit that sounds like an ex­cerpt from Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds.

Queen Of Time is a crazily am­bi­tious, re­lent­lessly epic al­bum. It sounds like the kind of thing Genghis Khan might have used to rouse his troops had Spo­tify ex­isted in the

13th cen­tury, con­jur­ing up in­spir­ing vi­sions of great bat­tles, fierce storms and venge­ful gods. It’s also kinda silly, should you choose to look at it like that. But we’re not.

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