Published Apr 26, 2013Twenty years after the release of their first album, Finland's Amorphis don't sound much like the death metal band heard on The Karelian Isthmus. Over the years, their songs have incorporated more elements from folk music, progressive rock and new configurations of these influences, woven through and around a heavy core that, on forthcoming album Circle, is no longer so clearly "metal."
Founding guitarist Tomi Koivusaari, like many musicians, isn't a fan of categorizing his own music but recognizes that Amorphis have a complicated relationship with the "metal" genre label.
,br> "Some or most listeners might see us as making a particular kind of metal," he tells Exclaim! "I couldn't imagine us not to sound heavy some day, but metal isn't maybe the right term when speaking about us. Nothing wrong with being metal, but we are playing our instruments more a rock-stylish way, in my opinion."
Despite how different Circle sounds from early Amorphis, there is still a recognizable identity running through the band's entire catalogue. Koivusaari attributes this to the band's continued folk inspirations and appreciation of simplicity, but suggests a source beyond the music as well.
"Maybe it is a similar way of thinking when composing, and of course, there have been the same guitarists the whole time and our way of playing. We have had those folk elements all the time and never wanted to do songs where you should be a virtuoso to play them. The simpler the better – leaves more space for atmosphere."
Time may have changed the band's sound, and age has brought increased responsibility to the members of Amorphis, but their approach to music-making works similarly to how it has from the beginning, Koivusaari reflects.
"Basically, it's still the same kind of process. Sometimes it is harder and sometimes easier, but still having the same kind of goals as from the beginning, trying to do a song which creates some feelings. We never had any limitations as to what direction we should take musically, so songs are coming the way they come. Our vision musically hasn't changed."
Koivusaari says he is content to leave the sound of early Amorphis behind, but appreciates what the band have accomplished musically and, perhaps, has a slight sense of regret for the youthful naiveté that is inevitably lost with time.
"I think every album is that time's milestone, which we should not be ashamed of or try to copy later on. There are some elements in our earlier stuff which when I'm listening to now, I'm thinking, how did we do that, and elements I'm thinking, why we did that. But I'm sure I'll be thinking the same after 20 years from now about, for example, Circle. I do miss a certain innocence about making songs which you have when you're young."
Circle is out on Nuclear Blast on April 30. Listen to the album's single, "Hopeless Days," below.