Amorphis is a Finnish heavy metal band founded by Jan Rechberger, Tomi Koivusaari, and Esa Holopainen in 1990. Initially, the band was a death metal act, but on later albums they evolved into playing other genres, including heavy metal, progressive metal, and folk metal. They frequently use the Kalevala, the Epic Poem of Finland, as a source for their lyrics.
Formation and early years
In 1989, Jan Rechberger and Esa Holopainen played in a thrash metal band called Violent Solution, which Tomi Koivusaari had left the previous year to form the death metal band Abhorrence. Violent Solution slowly dissolved and Jan Rechberger and Esa Holopainen put together another death metal band. In early 1990, Tomi Koivusaari became the vocalist and Oppu Laine became their bassist.
During that time, Tomi also performed rhythm guitar, leading to the band dumping all original compositions and starting over again. Tomi's other band, Abhorrence, split up and he found himself with more time to put into Amorphis. A demo tape, Disment of Soul, was recorded in 1991 by Timo Tolkki at TTT studios.
The Karelian Isthmus and Tales from the Thousand Lakes
Amorphis in 1992 with Jukka Kolehmainen of Abhorrence.
After the band recorded their first studio demo tape, Relapse Records offered Abhorrence a recording contract. Since Abhorrence was no longer active, they sent their own demo in the return mail and got signed to a worldwide recording deal. Soon after getting signed they released their death metal debut, The Karelian Isthmus under the new name Amorphis and later released the Privilege of Evil EP. The EP featured Abhorrence's original vocalist, Jukka Kolehmainen, on vocals on the Abhorrence cover song "Vulgar Necrolatry".
In 1994, Amorphis released their second studio album, Tales from the Thousand Lakes, a concept album based on the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. This 1994 release, while still rooted in death metal, was their first step toward a new direction as melodic clean vocals were added, provided by Ville Tuomi. Tales from the Thousand Lakes won the band a fan base thanks to its innovative sound and fusion of death metal with traditional folk, psychedelia, and progressive elements. This album went on to influence the signature Amorphis sound.
Elegy and Tuonela
During the subsequent tours Kasper (keyboards) left the band, to be replaced by Kim Rantala. Jan was replaced by Pekka Kasari (ex-Stone), and a sixth member was recruited, singer Pasi Koskinen. The third album, Elegy was released in 1996. Lyrics were again adapted from Finnish mythology, in this case, the Kanteletar, a collection of ancient folk poetry. Pasi and Tomi shared the vocals on an equal basis, with Pasi's providing only clean parts.
After a year and a half of touring following the release of Elegy, the band members took a time-out. Their next offering, 1999's Tuonela was a mellow guitar album, although toward the end of the studio sessions, Santeri Kallio of Kyyria was brought in to add some keyboard tracks to the songs. New instruments were introduced (Tomi playing sitar in the song "Greed", Sakari Kukko on saxophone and flute providing a foreign accent) and the death growls were reduced, as all vocals were performed by Pasi.
The tenth-anniversary compilation Story was produced, and the band experienced another line-up change. Following the breakup of Kyyria, Santeri joined Amorphis as a full-time member. Bassist Oppu was replaced by another ex-Kyyria member, Niclas Etelävuori, to tour with Amorphis on their third U.S. tour.
Am Universum and Far from the Sun
Am Universum was released in 2001, which included more emphases to keyboards and saxophone work, the latter contributed by Sakari Kukko. It was an experimental album and Amorphis' most psychedelic to date. In 2002 the band contributed to the soundtrack for the movie Menolippu Mombasaan. The commissioned piece was a cover version of a 1976 Finnish pop hit "Kuusamo", it is currently the band's only song in their native language.
Amorphis' last album with Relapse Records was Far from the Sun. In 2003, Relapse released the retrospective Chapters, which included a DVD featuring the band's videos from "Black Winter Day" to "Alone". Far from the Sun was produced by the band itself, which had been rejoined by original drummer Jan Rechberger after Pekka Kasari had quit to concentrate on family duties. Pasi left the band in 2004 after nine years.
While searching for the new vocalist Amorphis received over a hundred demo tapes from prospective vocalists but none of them became the new frontman of the band. Eventually Tomi Joutsen got an audition through a word of mouth and he became their next singer in 2005. Joutsen, best known for his work with metal band Sinisthra, urged Amorphis to return to the use of contrasting vocal styles for their next album. His first album with the band, Eclipse, was released in 2006. It was a critical and commercial success, hailed as a return to form by some critics, and achieving gold certification in Finland for the first time in the their history.
Amorphis followed Eclipse with gigs and festival appearances throughout Europe, all the while writing new material for its follow-up. They released their next album, Silent Waters, on September 3, 2007, achieving gold certification in Finland for the second time. The album marked the first time in the history of the band an album was recorded with the same personnel as the previous one. In support of Silent Waters, Amorphis launched their third headlining tour in North America alongside supporting acts Samael and Virgin Black.
Skyforger, The Beginning of Times and Circle
In November 2008, Amorphis entered Sonic Pump Studios to begin recording their 9th album. The result of those studio sessions, Skyforger, was released in Finland on May 27, 2009, throughout Europe two days later, and in the United States on June 16.
Initial presses of the album had mastering errors, which prompted Nuclear Blast to issue replacement CDs. The album was certified gold in Finland on July 7, 2011, making it the third Amorphis album in a row to do so.
On November 20, 2009, while touring in support of Skyforger, Amorphis filmed a show at Club Teatria in Oulu, Finland for their first-ever live DVD. The show was released alongside another show from Summer Breeze Open Air 2009 and a documentary, titled "Tales from the 20 Years", as a part of the CD/DVD set Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes on June 25, 2010.
On September 15, 2010, Amorphis released "Magic & Mayhem – Tales From The Early Years", a re-working of a dozen tracks from their first three albums with slightly different arrangements, better audio quality and featuring the band's current lineup, plus a cover of Light my Fire as a bonus track. During the tour that followed, the band briefly reunited with Pasi Koskinen and other past members (such as keyboard player Kim Rantala) on stage, to perform some of the older songs.
On September 30, 2010, Nuclear Blast announced that Amorphis had started work on a new album. On January 24, 2011, the band released an update which revealed recording was almost finished, except for vocals which would be completed at the home of producer Marco Hietala. The album The Beginning of Times was released on May 27, 2011 in Europe and June 7, 2011 in the USA and features cover art by longtime collaborator Travis Smith.
On August 21, 2012, Amorphis announced on their website that a new album was in the works. On January 17, 2013, the band announced the title and release date for their next record. Circle was released on April 19 in Europe and April 30th in North America. Tomi Joutsen on the new album, "Circle represents integrity. Back in the days, when there was something special to talk about, wise men used to sit in circle. Not everyone was invited to join them. But in this story, the protagonist was invited among the wise men's circle.”
Vocalist Tomi Joutsen at Ankkarock 2008.
Tomi Koivusaari – rhythm guitar (1990–present), growled vocals (1990–1997, 2010)
Esa Holopainen – lead guitar (1990–present)
Jan Rechberger – drums (1990–1995, 2002–present), keyboards, synthesizer (1990–1993)
Santeri Kallio – keyboards (1998–present)
Niclas Etelävuori – bass, backing vocals (2000–present)
Tomi Joutsen – clean and growled vocals (2005–present)
Olli-Pekka Laine – bass (1990–2000)
Kasper Mårtenson – keyboards (1993–1995)
Kim Rantala – keyboards (1995–1997)
Pekka Kasari – drums (1995–2002)
Pasi Koskinen – clean and growled vocals (1995–2004)
Ville Tuomi – clean vocals (1994, 1995)
Sakari Kukko – saxophone, flute (1999, 2001)
Marco Hietala – backing vocals (2006, 2007, 2009)
Iikka Kahri – saxophone, flute, clarinet (2009, 2011)