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During an interview with Amorphis' two guitarists towards the end of 2011, Tomi Koivusaari told me: "We already started to talk about what’s happening in the future that something has to be changed, like maybe it’s the studio or the way we are doing the album. Four albums the same, I think this is the last album with this formula." At that time, the Finns had maintained the same personnel for four consecutive albums, the most albums they've recorded with the same lineup, and there was a feeling implied within Tomi's assertion that they'd become too comfortable within that context and their modus operandi for recording through their continued use of Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala as producer. Those four albums were all critically lauded and chock-full of Amorphis' compositional prowess although I was left with the impression that the band deemed it necessary to step outside of their comfort zone in order to take a step forward creatively. An admirable move and one that's paid off. Enter Peter Tägtgren, Hypocrisy/PAIN mainman and skilled knob twiddler, who both produced and mixed 'Circle'. And forcing change by bringing in a new producer seems to have sparked a renewed vitality during the songwriting process as, compositionally, this is Amorphis' most consistently majestic album for a few years. They've always been able to produce albums of high quality, melodically-infused metal with tracks ranging from very good to fantastic. 'Circle' however, hits fantastic from opener 'Shades of Gray' and maintains that high standard until the closing bars of 'A New Day'.

Tägtgren's production is, as expected, first class, with guitars given equal weighting to keyboards in his skilfully balanced mix, thus the general effect is keys/fretboards combining in affective unity, lending the songs a genuine and heightened emotive essence. Some passages of palm-muted riffage dominate over the keys which gives a heavier feeling at times to what we've been used to with Amorphis' music the past few years, and Niclas Etelävuori's down-tuned, five string bass adds even more resonance to the overall sonics. Style-wise, all the usual Amorphis idioms and ingredients are present but they're executed with a more emphatic emotional profundity that oozes pure aural sublimity. The overall affect is often one of uplifting melancholia, that enigmatic musical paradox. Amorphis have always been masters at such but it works to perfection here. All members are on fire with their respective performances - frontman Tomi Joutsen, in particular, with his clean vocals (and occasional growls) has never sounded more impassioned in his delivery. Basically, I can't recommend this enough - Amorphis at their very best.
Nuclear Blast
Review by Mark Holmes
19th April 2013
1) Shades of Gray
2) Mission
3) The Wanderer
4) Narrowpath
5) Hopeless Days
6) Nightbird's Songs
7) Into the Abyss
8) Enchanted by the Moon
9) A New Day
"The overall affect is often one of uplifting melancholia, that enigmatic musical paradox. Amorphis have always been masters at such but it works to perfection here."