Amorphis – Magic & Mayhem [Tales From The Early Years]

By Jason Wellwood

The idea of re-recording classic tracks is something a lot of our favourite bands are exploring lately, for a number of reasons. Many bands are celebrating 25+ years of making music, or close to it (20 in Amorphis’s case) and probably getting tired of always playing songs the exact same way. Maybe it’s a case of new band members or even that they’ve been playing things differently live for years and now it’s time to have a studio version of these changes. In the case of the latest offering from Amorphis, it’s a little of all of things combined. Originally Amorphis were a ‘majestic skull pummeling death metal’ band (according to their liner notes) but they’ve added a lot more progressive elements over the years and encompassed some very late sixties/early seventies sounds as well. Concentrating these re-recordings on their earliest albums gives newer fans something familiar and makes it easier to tie the band that they are worshiping now, back to the band of the early 1990’s. It also gives people who perhaps don’t like the proggier elements or changes to Amorphis of the late 2000’s, an album that ties in with the songs they know and love. Maybe these songs will even give those fans a reason to start getting into the newer material.

There are always going to be purists who cry foul when a band re-records a favourite song but, really, it’s the band’s song to do with as they will. On Magic & Mayhem though, I don’t see many fans crying foul, in fact, I think the opposite is true. This album shines from top to almost bottom. New(ish) vocalist Tomi Joutsen does all of the early material complete justice and his voice works quite well with the songs. Overall Magic & Mayhem is a really strong record of where Amorphis is and was that should bring old and new fans together to agree on how great the band is no matter the era.

I am puzzled by the cover of the Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ though. If it’s supposed to be funny, it works, because it’s hilariously bad. If it was supposed to be serious, then it’s still hilariously funny.

(Nuclear Blast)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.