A is for… Amorphis
(Image by Cecil - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3668860)
The year was 2009, I was still working in advertising, and I was in need of new music. I mentioned this to a colleague and he surprised the waste solids out of me with the news that he was quite deeply into something called "Battle Metal". "What the Jeff on earth is that?", quoth I, or similar.
It transpired to be a subset of the genre I would then plunge myself into for the following year to the exclusion of all else - Folk Metal. Now while the distinctions between various strands and strains of metal are infinite and largely irrelevant, I would argue that the two albums Nick turned me on to that day are Folk Metal though not necessarily Battle (for Battle Metal, in my opinion, you want Turisas or Týr). Those two were Nightfall in Middle-Earth by Blind Guardian and the peerless Skyforger from the mighty Amorphis.
Hailing (as many folk-metallers are wont to do) from Finland, Amorphis have been going since 1990 and their oeuvre can be divided into a couple of phases. I'm honestly not that keen on their stuff before 2006's Eclipse, mostly because I don't get on with their original singer (or rather, with his singing). It was Tomi Joutsen's vocals on Skyforger that won me over in the first place, and it's the sound of that lineup that rings my folk-metal bell the hardest.
If you care, many of Amorphis's songs source their lyrics and themes from the Kalevala – the Epic Poem of Finland – bringing their work officially under the umbrella of folk metal, while their instrumentation is heavy yet eclectic, blending occasional folk and psychedelic sounds with the traditionally heavy layered guitars you'd expect.
Regular listeners will have already been made aware of Amorphis, as Skyforger was Clive's Album of the Year for 2009, and it pleases me hugely to say that they have gone from strength to strength since then. The two previous albums - Eclipse (2006) and Silent Waters (2007) are wonderful too, and serendipitously I write this on the day that they release their latest album, Queen of Time (their 13th studio release and 7th with Tomi J on vocals), which for some reason I do not yet possess even though it has been out for hours.
[Brief interlude of approximately 20 seconds…]
I do now.
So yeah, get into Amorphis. If you like heavy metal in any way at all, you will at least find them interesting. And if you want a second opinion, ask Angry Metal Guy.
It has to be Skyforger.
Check out the video for "Silver Bride" (from Skyforger) if you need further conwincing…