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AMORPHIS

Current Members

Past Members

Studio Session Members

Biography

One of Finland's premier acts. AMORPHIS, whose title derives from the word 'Amorphous' meaning without shape or form, have ploughed their own distinct furrow by combining Death Metal with elements of 70's inspired Progressive Rock and even Psychedelia. Based in Helsinki, AMORPHIS formed in 1990 by erstwhile VIOLENT SOLUTION and ABHORRENCE guitarist Tomi Koivusaari. ABHORRENCE had been initiated during 1989 by Koivusaari, the DISASTER credited singer Jukka 'Shrike' Kolehmainen, second guitarist Kalle Mattsson bassist Jussi Ahlroth along with drummer Kimmo Heikkinen. This unit bulldozed its way onto the local club scene, even putting in a solitary Norwegian gig, with ANTIDOTE's Mika Arnkil on drums, prior to issuing the 'Vulgar Necrolatry' single on the Seraphic Decay label. Although the group received no revenue from this 7" its presence did stir interest from other record companies. However, this was unknown to ABHORRENCE at the time, who went their separate ways in 1990.

Recording their first demo, 'Disment Of Soul', the same year for a January 1991 release, alongside Koivusaari the founding AMORPHIS line-up also comprised guitarist Esa Holopainen, bass player Olli Pekka-Laine with drummer and keyboard player Jan Rechberger. ABHORRENCE singer Jukka Kolehmainen was offered a chance at the lead vocal position but declined the offer. The band was picked up by American label Relapse almost by accident, the record company having made an offer to ABHORRENCE, not realising the group had folded. The newly established AMORPHIS recorded six tracks in May 1991 at TTT Studios in the capital with Timo Tolkki of STRATOVARIUS behind the mixing desk for an intended split album with INCANTATION, but this never appeared. However, two songs, 'Vulgar Necrolatry' / 'Misery Path', made it onto a limited edition 7" single issued in June 1992.

The first album, 'The Karelian Isthmus' taking its title from a historic Finnish battleground, co-produced by the band and Tomas Skogsberg at Stockholm's Sunlight Studios in May 1992, received creditable media response and strong sales upon its release that November, prompting Relapse to release the previously recorded tracks as the 'Privilege Of Evil' mini-album. Deceptively commencing with an acoustic, Celtic imbued lull, at this juncture Amorphis was entrenched in classic Death Metal territory, content to let guitars buzz with expressive, often arabesque imbued riffage over some impressive, near epic tunes. Lending some colour to the vocal department, narrative and "clean" vocal accompaniment would be provided by SUBURBAN TRIBE and KYYRIA's Ville Tuomi. Importantly, the European license for 'The Karelian Isthmus' would be taken up by Germany's Nuclear Blast label, who marketed the opus aggressively.

The next AMORPHIS album, 'Tales From A Thousand Lakes' once again cut with Tomas Skogsberg and delivered in September 1994, is loosely based on the Finnish national myth of Kalevala. The album featured a cover version of THE DOORS' 'Light My Fire' and includes the first appearance of new keyboard player Kasper Martenson. 'Tales From A Thousand Lakes' received an ecstatic reception from fans, its content quickly being exalted across the Metal underground as perhaps the very pinnacle of atmospheric Death Metal achievement. The group toured North America in 1994 alongside ENTOMBED then Europe with TIAMAT. With interest in the band gathering pace, standout track 'Black Winter Day' headed up an EP release bolstered by album outtakes in January 1995.

Drummer Jan Rechberger was replaced by Pekka Kasari in 1995. Further line-up ructions occurred for the 'Elegy' album with AMORPHIS adding ex-STONE man Kim Rantala on keyboards and vocalist Pasi Koskinen. Retaining the successful formula, the band employed both Sunlight Studios and Tomas Skogsberg but opted to engage engineer Pete Coleman for a final mix down at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool. 'Elegy', lyrically plundering native folklore with inspiration this time coming from the Elias Lönnrot 1840 compiled 'Kanteletar' body of 7,000 verses, gave AMORPHIS their first chart impression in May 1996 when it entered the German national listings at number 67. Reviews would be universally positive, fans accepting the smoother, refined vocal tones of Koskinen and the group's determination to push boundaries, including the alarming interpolation of a traditional Polka refrain in 'Cares'. The song 'My Kantele' would be lifted for a spin off EP release in January 1997 to maintain momentum, this hosting renditions of HAWKWIND's 'Levitation', the British Psych Godfathers being an increasing influence, and KINGSTON WALL's 'And I Hear You Call'.

Side activity found Holopainen putting in an appearance on the LOVE LIKE BLOOD Gothic Rocker's 'Jubileum' mini-album in early 1998. AMORPHIS returned in February the following year, the 'Divinity' single heralding a fresh album, 'Tuonela' produced by Simon Effemy, hitting the German charts at number 46. A transitional staging post, 'Tuonela' took an enormous leap from Metal into retro-Progressive Rock, this 70s vibe solidified by Hammond organ, sitar, flute overlays on 'Rusty Moon' and Sakari Kukko's saxophone. Indeed, Tomi Koivussaari's Death growl on the song 'Greed' marked the last usage of these harsher tones.

Laine left the band in 2000 to be replaced by KYYRIA's Niclas Etelävuori. Rantala also made his exit and was substituted by former KYYRIA member Santeri Kallio. A retrospective compilation, 'Story: 10th Anniversary', was put out in May 2000 to introduce those who had newly discovered the band to their rich back catalogue. Meantime, enterprising souls would pair up tracks from the 1991 AMORPHIS demo 'Disment Of Souls' with early ABHORRENCE tracks for a well timed split release.

The April 2001 album 'Am Universum', which debuted at number 3 on the Finnish national album charts, also achieved the honour of producing a homeland number one single with 'Alone'. AMORPHIS retained the studio partnership with Simon Effemy, committing 'Am Universum' to tape at Finnvox studios in Helsinki. Sakari Kukko saxophone this time stretched across the entire body of work, guitars would be downplayed whilst emphasis on keyboards was heightened. Japanese editions closed with an exclusive track, 'Too Much To See'. Touring in America, with complimentary support act OPETH, would commence with an appearance at the New Jersey Metalfest before Canadian gigs and a short run of headliners in the USA.

Various members of AMORPHIS also bided their time with side projects JAMBOR and ALL HUMANS SUBSTITUTES. Koskinen would engage in a side project AJATTARA releasing the 'Itse' album under the pseudonym of Ruoja. During April of 2002 drummer Pekka Kasari announced his retirement from the band, wishing to spend more time with his family. His replacement would swiftly be announced as none other than ex-AMORPHIS man Jan Rechberger.

The band contributed a new recording 'Kuusamo', actually a Finnish language version of the TOTO hit 'Africa', for the soundtrack to a Finnish movie 'Menolippu Mombasaan' in late 2002 as Koskinen's AJATTARA venture got to work on a second album 'Kuolema'. Meantime Tomi Koivusaari, Santeri Kallio and Niclas Etelävuori readied a second album, 'Happosadetta', from their side concern VERENPISARA. Etelävuori would be doubly industrious during this period, also sessioning for Portuguese Gothic Metal pioneers MOONSPELL. Yet another adjunct outfit with strong AMORPHIS connections came with the unveiling of CHAOSBREED in early 2003. Something of a Finnish Metal 'Supergroup' the band comprised lead vocalist Taneli Jarva of SENTENCED and THE BLACK LEAGUE, guitarists Esa Holopainen of AMORPHIS and Marko Tarvonen of MOONSORROW, bass player Oppu Laine of AMORPHIS and MANNHAI repute with former GANDALF drummer Nalle Österman.

In recognition of the band's rising status AMORPHIS revealed in March 2003 that they had signed a new record deal with major label EMI. The first fruits of this union would be the album 'Far From The Sun' preceded by the single 'Day Of Your Beliefs' in May. Naturally the band's experimental bent was unbowed, this time even drafting the Sveaborg Boys' Choir. It would be learned that former HAVANA BLACK singer Hannu Leiden had acted as vocal producer for Pasi Koskinen during recording. Despite all this activity, both Koskinen and bassist Niclas Etelävuori found space to forge a side project band in league with H.I.M. drummer Mika "Kaasu" Karppinen. Coincidently, it would be leant H.I.M. and AMORPHIS members had forged an anonymous Grindcore venture entitled TO SEPARATE THE FLESH FROM THE BONES.

AMORPHIS united with British Goth-Rock veterans PARADISE LOST lost for Scandinavian dates in October. However, regular drummer Jan Rechberger was forced out due to personal circumstances, his place being taken by Atte Sarkima from VERENPISARA, also a member of Black Metal combo AJATARRA (as 'Malakias III') and a veteran of 80's hair band CHRISTINE, HAVANA BLACK and Prog merchants FIVE FIFTEEN. In the Spring of 2004, as the band entered CCPC Studios in Helsinki to demo new material, 'Far From The Sun' finally secured a North and South American release a full year after its European issue. The US Nuclear Blast version added three bonus tracks, including an acoustic version of the title track, whilst Japanese variants added 'Darkrooms'.

During September 2004 Esa Holopainen and Santeri Kallio took to the road in Finland with LORDS OF THUNDER, a covers band comprising top flight Metal musicians such as Janne Joutsenniemi of SUBURBAN TRIBE, Atte Sarkama from VERENPISARA plus Mikko Herranen of VELCRA and RUST.

AMORPHIS revealed tour plans for an October run of North American shows partnered with TYPE O NEGATIVE. However, in a move that shocked many fans, longtime AMORPHIS singer Pasi Koskinen quit, performing his last gig with the band on August 21st at the Kontu Rock Festival. Vocal duties for the North American trek would be delegated to CHARON and ex-POISONBLACK frontman Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto. In the event, the US October dates too would be pulled when a TYPE O NEGATIVE management statement in mid September revealed a medical exam on frontman Pete Steele resulted in "undisclosed anomalies" being discovered.

Esa Holopainen and Santeri Kallio engaged themselves in extracurricular activities with Heavy Metal / Hard Rock covers band LORDS OF THUNDER alongside Janne Joutsenniemi from SUBURBAN TRIBE, Atte Sarkima of VERENPISARA and the VELCRA and RUST credited Mikko Herranen. Performing songs by the likes of WHITESNAKE, IRON MAIDEN and W.A.S.P. the band embarked upon a Finnish tour in late September 2004.

In November it would be revealed that the AMORPHIS collective of guitarists Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari, bassist Niclas Etelävuori and keyboard player Santeri Kallio had all donated their services to a Country / Blues covers album assembled by CARCASS frontman Jeff Walker.

In January of 2005 the band inducted new singer Tomi Joutsen, a veteran of NEVERGREEN. US AMORPHIS dates scheduled for March had the band partnered with INTO ETERNITY, SINGLE BULLET THEORY and BEYOND THE EMBRACE. The group re-signed with Nuclear Blast records shortly afterward, entering Sonic Pump studios in Helsinki on 1st July to craft a new album 'Eclipse'. First single 'House Of Sleep' topped the Finnish charts in January 2006.

Later that year Tomi Joutsen aided SWALLOW THE SUN as guest vocalist on their cover version of the TIMO RAUTIAINEN & TRIO NISKALAUKAUS song 'Alavilla Mailla'. AMORPHIS utilised Sonic Pump Studios once again in January 2007 to lay down new album tracks. Released that September, 'Silent Waters', entered the national German charts at no. 44.

The 'Skyforger' set, once again recorded at Sonic Pump Studios, emerged in May 2009. The group featured on the 'Summer Breeze' festival billing in August held in Dinkelsbühl, Germany.

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