The world shutdown that was chosen as the answer to the 2020-2021 Covid era was a dark and challenging period for touring bands. Scrapped gigs meant the loss of thousands of dollars, the destruction of livelihoods, and the resultant closure of a host of live venues. Some artists dissolved or lost purpose, while others thrived in their isolation.
For Amorphis, one of the most successful Heavy Metal bands in the history of Finland, the momentum forged from a string of magical album releases was certainly under threat. Flying high from their 2018 magnum opus Queen of Time, the group decided to meet worldwide closure with a gesture of goodwill and solidarity. This came in the form of Queen of Time (Live at Tavastia); a recorded performance at the most famous of Helsinki venues, Club Tavastia. Technically the band’s second official live album, behind 2021’s Live at Helsinki Ice Hall, Queen of Time (Live At Tavastia 2021) became available on October 13, 2023 through Atomic Fire Records.
A bit different, playing to an empty room might not have been totally new to the band, as shooting past videos in closed spaces, and the odd unpeopled gig, may have simulated these conditions. Amorphis, as is their easy going nature, jovially downplayed the ominousness of playing to a concert hall forced by government mandate to be empty. The performance on the other hand certainly leaves no trace of the inhuman era we were all forced to be complicit in; Amorphis on-stage is a machine honed by years in the craft and an unquenchable love of performance.
The album is a faithful rendition of the aforesaid 2018 album Queen of Time, and while playing to an empty room may seem cloaked in absurdity, the truth is every note of recorded music made by a band is done in such rooms, with the express intent of coming to our ears forever afterwards. Taken in this sense, the album is like a detailed rehearsal tape which gives the listener the impression of how each song is played in the live setting. Furthermore, Vocalist Tomi Joutsen sounds fantastic, and one pleasurable difference is the presence of Olli-Pekka Laine’s bass guitar in the mix. As usual, Santeri Kallio’s keyboards ring out clearly, yet even more so in this context. Moreover, it is great to see the band perform with former The Gathering Vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen on “Amongst Stars.”
Overall, fans of Amorphis will rejoice, and new fans will do well to respect the unbridled passion and peerless musicianship these Finnish kings of Heavy Metal display with such ease. Dressed in a lovely green-hued album sleeve, Queen of Time (Live At Tavastia 2021) is a wonderful addition to any Amorphis canon. Additionally, you can pick up the album in physical formats such as vinyl and CD, but also as a Blu-ray for your viewing pleasure. All the same, let us hope it never happens again. Until this exceptional band returns again, Cryptic Rock gives this live album 4 out of 5 stars.