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Photos: Amorphis At The Ice Hall

Who can truly say they have seen a concert on an ice rink? Well, Finns can, for a start. Last Saturday, Amorphis decided to have a sold-out gig at the main Helsinki “Ice Hall”, with not one, not two, but three support bands!

The Ocean Collective is a German band that, amazingly, has been going on for over 15 years while not being super noted. Mixing some sludge-black influences with a bit of a punk vibe, their music definitely packs a punch, grabs you by the neck and makes you headband and jump. There’s only 200 people in the audience because Amorphis’ concert isn’t due to start until 22.00? Not a problem, let me jump and crowdsurf a bit. Mission accomplished for the Germans, who very clearly did a great job at warming up people who (mostly) didn’t know their band at all.

Next up is Leprous, a Norwegian prog metal band that has also been going on for quite some time. This has been a bit of a puzzle to me. I didn’t know them either, so I was, as it were, a blank slate. And I definitely enjoyed the groovy vibe of their bass-keyboards-guitars work, and the drums felt quite in sync too. But then… maybe it’s me, maybe it’s prog. But it felt like the voice was mostly out of place and ruining what would have been an otherwise enjoyable groovy ride. I’ll just say it’s avant-garde and not dwell on it too much. The audience seemed to be okay with it, and some people were jumping up and down, and that’s all that counts.

The main support was Soilwork. The Swedish melodeatheads (is that even a word) don’t need any intro anymore. 20 years of touring with Dark Tranquillity, Cannibal Corpse or In Flames speak better than any business card. Björn knows how to work a crowd. They have exactly what it takes in terms of power, strength and sweetness to bring everyone’s expectations up a notch, ready to physically melt the ice of Finland’s national hockey team’s house. Most of their set seemed to come from their latest album too, Verkligheten, so it was a nice discovery for anyone new to them.

And then finally it’s up to Amorphis. Maybe I’m a fanboy. Maybe Tomi Joutsen is indeed the best metal singer of all time. But it has to be said: Tomi is definitely the best. His growls are the deepest, his clean voice the cleanest. Then let’s highlight the fact that Tomi Koivusaari also sings quite a bit in this tour, which provides a great diversity and more power to the vocals, especially on songs which mix a lot of clean and growl vocals.

Amorphis decided to seize this opportunity to chat a bit with their home audience, about past projects, and to showcase a wide range of songs, from Black Winter Day to The Bee. What better song to open their concert than The Bee? It is quintessential Amorphis, combining everything that you can love about them. Clear and growl, melodies and power, myths and poetry. No wonder it’s been chosen as the single for Queen of Time. And to end the concert? No other than House of Sleep (followed by the “humppa” version of it, Vaivaistalossa, by local band Eläkeläiset, played as soundtrack while the band waved their goodbye).

What’s particularly remarkable about Amorphis’ concerts is the lightwork. Who needs big blasting flamethrowers when you have a great light engineer who knows their way around the console and can create dozens of different environments just playing with spots? From red (Under The Red Cloud) to blue (Tales From The Thousand Lakes), they created atmospheres that reminded the audience of the album covers while underlining the stage presence of all musicians. Overall, a great concert in a great tour. They will be touring Israel, Turkey and have some more dates in Europe over winter 2019-2020, so be sure not to miss them.

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