Amorphis Enchant Le Petit Bain Paris, France 3-26-16 w/ Textures

Amorphis Enchant Le Petit Bain Paris, France 3-26-16 w/ Textures

Finland’s own Amorphis has built a name for themselves as one of the most interesting bands in Heavy Metal over the course of twenty-six years. Initially more of a Death Metal band, they soon expanded their horizons with their defining sophomore album Tales from the Thousand Lakes in 1994. Although, staying true to their name, Amorphis can not be classified and have refused to fit any mold over the course of their expansive career. Celebrating the release of their twelfth studio album, Under the Red Cloud, released worldwide in September of 2015, Amorphis hit stages with Sweden’s Arch Enemy as well as Nightwish through the end of the year.

Now after attaining top ranked chart positions with Under the Red Cloud throughout Europe, they embark on their own headlining tour entitled the Under the Red Cloud World Tour. Begun on March 3rd in Hannover, Germany, the tour runs through April 17th when concluding in Bochum, Germany. Although starting and concluding in Deutschland, plenty of shows around the European region fall in between those dates, and on Saturday, March 26th, Amorphis visited the city of Paris, France to perform at Le Petit Bain. A concert hall situated just in front of the remarkable National Library, it is actually a big barge remarkably converted into a place more and more popular Metal Bands play when visiting Paris. With support from Grecian Progressive Metal band Poem and Dutch band Textures, the night was going to be filled with excitement for those who braved the traffic of a Saturday night in Paris to make it to this exceptional show.

With Poem concluding their set, next came Textures, a name that regularly caresses the ears of the Metalhead since 2001. Currently supporting their fifth studio album, Phenotype, Textures can best be described as an innovative mix of Progressive Metal, Metalcore, Technical Death Metal, and Groove Metal. With that in mind, they have built a strong name for themselves over the course of their career, and for many gracing Le Petit Bain, it would be their first opportunity to put the music to the name Textures.

Then, the hall darkened as Guitarist Bart Hennephof, Drummer Stef Broks, Bassist Remko Tielemans, Keyboardist Uri Dijk, Guitarist Joe Tal, and Vocalist Daniël de Jongh came forward, exploiting every corner of the small stage. It is highly respectful for a band such as Textures craving to play and share their music with the crowd, despite the size of the stage or crowd. With that, the band warmly thanked people for being there,and started their set with the 2006 Drawing Circles tracks “Drive” and “Regenesis.” Prior to going into the actual music, Textures opted for a martial intro, which, in an instant, captivated everyone’s attention. It was a way of saying, “Your ears are going to bleed deliciously… be prepared!”

Moving along in their set, “New Horizons” began with a beautiful introduction and then followed with the powerful song “Shaping A Single Grain Of Sand.” It was at this point many began to realize they were in fact privileged to witnessing such a rich and varied musical repertoire from Textures. Daniël de Jongh, a relative newcomer considering the history of the band, showed the audience a wide range of vocal capacities, alternating clear and Thrash/Death voices, with talent. With sometimes screamed – but sung – voices, these are some the most difficult types of voices to master, especially during a concert where vocal cords are extremely solicited. In addition, Tielemans’ stage presence was amazing as he shook his bass several times in the air like a cross as if he would defy the “musically correct.”

They continued on with tracks such as “Awake” and “Singularity” before concluding the set with “Laments of an Icarus” as everyone showed great appreciation.  Textures is a high level Metal band whose musicianship is clearly evident by their live performances. The band will continue touring with Amorphis until the end of the tour, and in 2017, have plans to release the second part of the concept pieces begun with Phenotype, entitling the new music Genotype. 

This evening, the French river “La Seine” became the confluence of the imaginary 10,000 lakes of Finland. Referencing to the aforementioned Tales from the Thousand Lakes album from Amorphis, this metaphor is refereed to because the album holds deep meaning to many. In fact, it would not be far fetched to say many in the French region first were turned onto Amorphis upon discovering this album, and, because of it, have since waited for each and every album the band has released. With each of their albums containing a lot of gold treasures, their discography is undeniably rich, and that led many to ponder what would Amorphis offer during their latest visit to Paris. That answer was only a few minutes away as anticipation ran high.

With no surprise, the Finnish band began the concert with “Under The Red Cloud,” the eponym song of their latest album. This gave the singer, Tomi Joutsen, the opportunity to display his customized microphone, a curious mix of retro and futuristic styles. This was followed by two more tracks off the new album, “Sacrifice” and “Bad Blood.” Considering the excellence of Under the Red Cloud, everyone in attendance understood why the band proudly started this concert with these three titles, which, put together, sum up the music of Amorphis in a perfect way; a symbiosis of Doom/Death Metal with Rock/Progressive influences tinted with Celtic atmospheric sonorities.

In addition to Joutsen’s powerful vocals, Guitarists Esa Holopainen as well as Tomi Koivusaari, the spine of the band since its creation, played their instruments with a lot precision. This was not to be overshadowed by the support of Bassist Niclas Etelävuori and Drummer Jan Rechberger, who worked as a team to bring the music to life. Tight and unified as a musical entity, they went on with their song “Sky is Mine” from their very acclaimed 2009 album Skyforger. No mosh in sight yet, the public was actually present to commune with the band. This was evident from the fans on the forefront of the stage whose lip movements, punctuated by head movements, suggested that they knew the lyrics by heart.

Moving right along, then came “The Wanderer,” a song from their penultimate 2013 album Circle, whose chorus had the public participating. Thereafter, with their titles “On Rich and Poor” and “Drowned Maid,” Amorphis offered their fans an exquisite return to the past before going back to the present with “Dark Path” and “The Four Wise Ones.” The great particularities Amorphis is, their capability to create incredible atmospheric passages are able to transcend all souls, which are at least marginally connected to the music. These passages, which clearly contribute to the DNA of the band, are often fueled with melodic guitars combined with emotively soaring keyboards creating a heady and entrancing sensation. Magic moments, which audiences never get tired of, also highlight the dexterity of the keyboardist Santeri Kallio. With that in mind, the time came for their hit “Silent Waters,” followed by their unavoidable song “My Kantele,” a delight for all true fans of Amorphis.

Nearing the end of their set, Amorphis played “Hopeless Days,” a very interesting track which, despite its complexity, had clearly its place in the band’s set. Then, winding down, “House of Sleep” was obviously keenly awaited by the public, who was once again able to appreciate the charisma of Koivusaari. Gifting their dedicated followers an encore, Koivusaari oozed personality again on “Death of a King,” a track whose Oriental introduction proved to be remarkably efficient. It also allowed the public to listen carefully to the depth of Koivusaari’s guttural voice on the one hand, and to his easily identifiable and remarkable clear voice on the other hand. At last, the band finished with two major songs, namely “Silver Bride” and one of its most Celtic pieces, “The Smoke,” spotlighting Rechberger’s strong rhythmic basis, which is undeniably a main advantage to the band.

To conclude, this concert was a great and unforgettable moment for all fans of Amorphis and put strong emphasis on the excellence of Under the Red Cloud. Of course, considering their long musical history, it would be impossible to perform them all. That is not a knock on Amorphis, but  a testament to the fact that they have so many masterpieces amidst their discography, which makes it truly a privilege for any fan to see them live.

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Max Penumbra
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