Amorphis - Magic & Mayhem - Tales from the Early Years (2010)

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If you’ve been following Infernal Masquerade for a while, you should know that we are one of the biggest Amorphis fans ever. When this release was announced we had big smiles in our heads since after seeing the band perform this classic songs with the ‘latest’ line-up and completely blowing us away, we wanted to have them on studio-quality recording and blast them all day long, since 7 out of the 13 songs in this album are some of our favorites of all time.

“Magic & Mayhem - Tales from the Early Years” features 12 songs (plus one bonus track) that have been re-recorded and somewhat re-arranged to fit the band’s current dynamic sound. These songs are taken from “The Karelian Isthmus”, “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”, and “Elegy” albums.

Starting off by the songs from “The Karelian Isthmus”, we get the always brutal “Vulgar Necrolatry” (originally on their first self-title single, but on the “Karelian” CD as a bonu track), which sounds a bit cleaner and better produced than back in the day. We also have “Exile of the Sons of Uisliu”, a song that is probably our favorite from the ‘brutal’ Amorphis time, the new arrangements sound well and the magically production makes this song shine more than ever. “Sign from the North Side” is the other song from this album, sounds good, but for us, it was never a ‘hit’ song.

From “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” we have five out of the original 10 songs on the first pressing of the album, and here the band makes its biggest imprint of the new sound with the old songs. On “Black Winter Day” we love the little changes to the intro, “Magic and Mayhem” sounds as majestic as ever, “Into Hiding” sounds a bit weird since Tommy Joutsen clean vocals sound ‘different’ from what we are used to, but it’s because of the way the original vocal melodies where worked out into the song. “The Castaway” is greatly aided by crisp guitar lines and crystal clear drumming; the little changes in the keyboards add extra value to the song. “Drowned Maid” sounds even better than before because of the boosted production and the extra keyboards. Overall, the “Tales…” songs of this album are pretty well ‘refreshed’, but we still like Tomi Koivusaari’s original vocals from 1994, and the few times that are used in this new re-recording.

The remaining 4 songs are taken from the “Elegy” album, a release that we didn’t like when it came out since Pasi Koskinen’s clean vocals made us want to puncture our eardrums, but we later revisited and completely loved the awesome music in this album. “On Rich and Poor” has little changes, but the subtle additions are pretty good, especially Tomi Joutsen’s vocals. “Songs of the Troubled One” features nice new arrangements and sounds even better than before, but again nothing major changes here. “My Kantele” a song close to perfect back in 96, is greatly helped by the production and sounds amazing. Our favorite song from “Elegy” has always been “Against Windows” a song that you can headbang until you feel dizzy and pass out, with Tomi J, this song sounds very brutal and even better. The keyboards have been re-vamped a bit, but nothing major.

The bonus track of this release, the infamous cover of “Light My Fire”, is the one we think that songs completely different than before. The drums and guitars sound WAY better than before, and the keyboards add a more atmosphere than before. The vocals have never sounded very good, so on this version they still sound weird.

Overall, we think that as a 20 year celebratory release, “Magic & Mayhem - Tales from the Early Years” is a great effort. The luck ones that have been able to witness the band live (or bought their DVD this year) can attest that the old songs sound amazing with Tomi J. and the current band’s sound, but with this CD now you are able to have it on studio quality to enjoy day and night. The best thing for us in this CD is that we get the “Elegy” songs without the terrible squeals of Pasi. “Magic...” is definitely a must buy album for the legions of Amorphis fans.

Band: Amorphis Album: Magic & Mayhem - Tales from the Early Years
Label: Nuclear Blast

Release: September 17th, 2010

Official Site myspace
Genre: Melodic/Progressive Metal

Country: Finland

Rating: 90/100