Genre: Progressive Metal
Country: Finland
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year: 2015

There are many similarities between 2015 and 1995. In both cases great records are released. Nuclear Blast is on the top of its game having released a great deal of top – notch records, coming from the bands gathered in its amidst. None of its releases will be characterized as the “Record of the Year” though, since Iron Maiden’s “The Book Of Souls” has caused pandemonium all over the world, thus ranking it as the “Record of the Year”, whether they like it or not. Nonetheless, we will have the advantage to relish masterpieces, such as the dearly Amorphis’ new record, who have conquered a special position in our hearts since “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” was released. Pasi Koskinen’s bail out from the band was barely noticeable. He chose to continue his career with Ajattara and later with Mannhai, of which he is still a member. He has been missing since 2006, when he participated in the latter’s album in a few tracks.

Tomi Joutsen has proven to be an excellent fill –in, gaining the respect and the universal acceptance of the fans. He responded fully to his duties with relative ease in both clean and brutal vocals, while the new album gets kudos having to his credit one of his best performances so far. After an extensive tour to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the “Tales From The Thousand Lakes”, they pulled themselves together, composed and recorded in two just months their twelfth album, “Under The Red Cloud”, leaving its production on Jens Bogren’s (Soilwork, Kreator etc.) magic hands. He led them producing one of their heaviest and most aggressive (with several extreme moments) and most elaborate album, in which the atmosphere and melody still remain their trademarks and greatest assets. The record’s quality is even more raised with the participation of Chrigel Glanzmann (Eluveitie) on flutes in “The Four Wise Ones”, “Death Of A King” and “Tree Of Ages”. Martin Lopez (ex-Opeth drummer) joins on percussion in “Death Of A King”, while Aleah Stanbridge (Trees Of Eternity) assists with her guest vocals on “The Four Wise Ones”, “Sacrifice” and “White Night”. The lyrics were written by the seventh inconspicuous member of the band, Pekka Kainulainen.

The record is reminiscent of «Elegy», «Tuonela» and «Am Universum» days, something that will satisfy all those who believe «Karelian» as their best album, let alone «Tales …» hitting top. All songs are excellent with «Bad Blood», «Dark Path» being the highlights, while the oriental «Death Of A King» («Elegy» days), «The Four Wise Ones», the title track, «Sacrifice»,  «White Night» … even the bonus tracks of the limited edition are top class.

The rank could be higher, but doesn’t hold any greater importance. We’re playing it safe.

4.5 / 6