After 25 years and a dozen of studio albums later, Amorphis is releasing what could be considered one of the heaviest album in their career and one of the top albums of 2015. With Under The Red Cloud, Amorphis not only shows the true power behind Tomi Joutsen‘s vocal cords, but the bands moves to a whole new level of heaviness that reshapes their signature sound.
Under The Red Cloud, is not only a 10 track album, no it goes further than that, each song on the album has its own texture, its own character despising the fact that together they form one of the heaviest album released so far this year . Songs like the title track Under The Red Cloud, or The Four Wise Ones, which carries this late 90’s early 2000’s melodic guitar riffs that along with Tomi‘s powerful vocals result on a dark combination of melodic death metal with progressive metal parts on it.
It seems Amorphis hit it right on the spot at the time to put veteran producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, Symphony X, Katatonia, Soilwork) behind the recording console, and record the album at his Fascination Street studios in Sweden. Not only the music on this album is amazingly good, but the production level is top-notch. If you listen to tracks like; Bad Blood (focus on the vocal transitions between growls and clean vocals), or Sacrifice on the guitar & drum sounds, you will easily found out the level of production work on this album.
In order to understand the constructive process of Under The Red Cloud, The Age Of Metal had a chat with guitar player and founder member, Esa Holopainen. We talked about the album, their experience working with Jens Bogren at Fascination Street studios, their experience at Maryland Deathfest early this year, and their desire to tour North American in full force in the future.
The Age Of Metal: Hello Esa, How are you?
Esa Holopainen: I am doing fine, and you?
TAOM: Pretty good, How is the promotion for the album going so far?
EH: A lot of interviews.
TAOM: That is good. Now, Amorphis is releasing a new album titled Under The Red Cloud this month, how do you describe this album? and there is any conceptual ideas behind it?
EH: No concept album, they lyrical point describe a little bit about the world that we living at the moment, everything is a little bit about what is going to happen. It’s about seeking hope from gods and being close with nature, and seek some philosophical thoughts about a more wealth perspective. But, music wise its very dynamic. It’s the first album we now done with a Swedish producer Jens Bogren, and I guess what he brought to this album it’s definitely the heaviness and the dynamics, and the great contrast between the growling and the clean vocals.
TAOM: Indeed, this album its heavier, and it has a bit more of melodic death metal sound on it. In term of sounds how do you describe this album?
EH: You can easily hear the death metal roots, but Jens’s idea was when we did the pre-production with him, he wanted this album to sound like the good things that he thinks about Amorphis. So, what he wanted from us was to lift the tempos a little bit for certain songs, and then he focus a lot with the heaviness and the dynamics of the album, and as I said the vocals as Tomi is very good with the more aggressive and with the growling vocals, He wanted to add them more as well. So, on this album there is probably more growling vocals than any other album he done with Tomi on vocals.
TAOM: What was the most difficult part at the time to create Under The Red Cloud?
EH: There was not a lack of inspiration what came to the writing process, the good thing about Amorphis is that we have several members who write music, so it’s just not the one person who does music, and you have to wait half a year before something comes up. I think we are pretty creative, we wrote the music about a year ago, we started last summer to come up with ideas, and after the summer we start to send the demos to each other, then we would go to the rehearsing place to check out what we have. We actually have quite of a lot songs, we had 20 demo tracks from all the members when we started to put all together, and during the pre production with Jens we picked up the songs from all the 23 songs what we were actually going to record for the actual album. We came up with 13 tracks.
TAOM: How was that work with producer Jens Bogren at Fascinations Street studios? I heard he is an Amorphis fan
EH: Yeah, I don’t know if Jens likes the music that we have done in the past, same thing was with Peter. With Peter we have a long relationship we have been friends for years and years back. So, we pretty much when we worked with Peter, we knew him before hand, and it was like working with a friend. At the time when we started to think about a producer we knew that Peter was already working with the Lindermann project, so we didn’t even want to ask if had any time. But Jens was very obvious, he was the first and the only choice that we had because we as well love what he has done, if you think of Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth stuff, what he has been doing its pretty amazing, He has done great mixes for Devin Townsend. In my point of view he is probably the best metal producer that is out there at the moment. He was far more strict than we thought, he is very very picky with what comes to the takes and everything.
TAOM: Out of the set list of this new album, are there any songs in particular that you are excited to play live?
EH: You know, that becomes harder and harder every year. We have around 150 Amorphis songs in our back catalog and if you imagine that we play one hour set, its pretty hard task to try to cover everything, or at least something from each album, that becomes harder and harder. I easily imagine to play any song from the new album, but obvious the single tracks; Sacrifice, and Dead Of A King they are pretty obvious choices, but besides that, I don’t have any clue yet. We’ll see, we go to the rehearsing place and start to wrestle and argue, everybody has their own opinion.
TAOM: Early this year, Amorphis played at the Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore, what do you remember of that show?
EH: Great show, we had a very good time. you know, its been a while since we play the states and we didn’t have too much clue what is going to be playing a festival in the states. We had experiences when we play this mosh-metal meltdowns festivals, I think they were somewhere in New Jersey or something like that, years and years back. Those were really really shitty venues, and happenings. you really couldn’t put out a really good show there, mostly because of the bands, mostly because of the technicians, and everything. But, when we heard about Maryland Deathfest was good things, and when we finally went there it was very very nice, and a well-organized metal festival. We got very good feedback.
TAOM: Are there any plans to bring Amorphis on a full tour to the USA sometime in the future?
EH: I really hope so, we are now looking at working with a new agency at the moment, so if that happens I guess is really obvious that we’ll try to arrange a tour over there, but so far we are booked ourselves until the end of this year. So, 2016 probably would be something that we might do.
TAOM: Esa, thank you very much for the chat, do you have any words for the American fans that are waiting for this new release of Amorphis?
EH: Yeah, hopefully people like the album and get into it, it was really really a lot of hard work and we are extremely proud of the album, to be honest I think is probably the best album we have done with Tomi on vocals, very excited to see what is the reaction of the people, and hopefully we would get a chance to come over to North America for a tour. Thank you.