When Amorphis guitarist Esa Holopainen talks about the band’s thirty-year history, there’s a hint of nostalgia for its beginnings in the 1990s, when the Finnish metal band burst onto the scene with scrapbooks. The Karelian Isthmus and Tales of a Thousand Lakes. Since then, Amorphis has released fourteen albums, including that of 2022 Halo, and forged a unique path in the crowded world of extreme music. Holopainen admits he would have been pleased with the band’s early success and never imagined Amorphis would still be around three decades later.
“Oh no. No way,” he says emphatically. “I think it all happened in a few steps. It was already a dream come true when we signed our first record deal with Relapse Records. being able to do the first tours in North America and Europe, I would have been happy with those results already. There’s something about being in a band with the same guys for over thirty years that keeps you going It’s our job — it’s a lot of hard work — but it’s still as good as when we started.
Amorphis is on the road and will bring its ever-evolving soundscape to the Oriental Theater in Denver on Friday, April 22, along with Uada, Sylvaine and Hoaxed. This is the band’s first US tour since 2019, and they recently announced a European tour for later this year.
“We are really looking forward to the shows. It’s been too long since we’ve done a proper tour,” says Holopainen.
While American and Swedish death metal simultaneously grew in popularity at the time of the band’s inception, Amorphis’ sound was always more varied, even sophisticated. The band blended elements of death metal, doom metal, progressive rock and folk music into songs inspired by Kalevala, a Finnish epic poem about the creation of the Earth. But the band were never afraid to change things up, making Amorphis a fitting name. Holopainen laughs at such an observation and explains that the group is “not as radical” as it once was.
“At the time, I think we were doing too much of what we wanted to do,” he says of albums like 1996. Elegy and its sequel, 1999 Tuonela, which relied even more heavily on doom and prog elements. “For us, as musicians, we had to, because we never wanted to get stuck in one form. Today, we mix all the new nuances and influences quite well in our music. Even though there are a lot of different elements from different genres and the musical world, even ethnic music, I must say that we are quite good at mixing all these elements in our music without sounding too different.
Halo is yet another example of this, as the latest release once again feels grand in its overall lineup, fitting right in with the band’s recent release, which includes 2018 queen of time and 2015 under the red cloud.
“It’s been some pretty huge musical journeys the last two releases,” says Holopainen. “There are so many influences from different types of music. If you have a broader taste in music, you’ll probably like one of these albums.
Written during the pandemic, Holopainen believes Halo is “certainly slightly heavier, maybe the overall vibe.”
“It really shows the times we’re living in right now,” he says.
Halo reached No. 1 on the Finnish Albums Chart and No. 4 on Billboard‘s Hard Rock Albums Chart, as well as in the top five of the charts in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria.
“I guess we’re doing something here,” comments Holopainen.
He also released his first solo album, Silver Lakein 2021, which meant “the wheels were turning all the time,” he says.
“It was a very therapeutic experience to do something totally different,” he recalls. “Just listen to your inner self and do what you want.”
Holopainen doesn’t know if, or when, he’ll be working on more solo material. You might think that someone who creates so much music is constantly consuming it, but, he admits, “in my personal life, I’m pretty boring.” He still prefers Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath whenever he’s looking for vinyl. But he enjoys touring with new bands, including Ukrainian Jinjer, who mix new sounds with metal.
“One big thing about the metal scene today that I didn’t understand in the late 1990s was that it was very limited at that time, and from the mid-90s we were taking We already had elements of different music and were doing quite different kinds of death metal stuff. Today I think people are more open-minded to different kinds of music, and the metal scene as a whole has explored that a lot “, he concludes. “I think it’s a good thing, because being too strict about what you listen to does not make sense.
Amorphis plays at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 22. Tickets cost between $28 and $200.