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Album Review: "Tuonela" - the Album That Sees Amorphis Shift to a More Progressive Style of Heavy Metal

Updated on February 9, 2023
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Tuonela: CD Image

"Tuonela" Songs List

  1. The Way
  2. Morning Star
  3. Nightfall
  4. Tuonela
  5. Greed
  6. Divinity
  7. Shining
  8. Withered
  9. Rusty Moon
  10. Summer’s End

Guitarist Esa Holopainen Seen Here Performing in 2008


The album "Tuonela" and the origin of the album's title

Tuonela is the 4th studio album by Finnish metal band Amorphis and it was released in 1999. This is one of the band’s weakest albums but it is still good. Amorphis is one of those bands that pretty much every one of their albums will be as good. The album’s title comes from the area or region of the dead in Finnish mythology. This is similar to Hades in Greek mythology.

"Tuonela" Shows the Greatness of Amorphis

The title track has some piano playing in to make it more creative. The song Greed has sitar in it and Tomi Koivusaari lets out a death metal growl similar to 1994’s Tales From the Thousand Lakes album. Tuonela is largely a more progressive rock kind of effort similar to 2001’s Am Universum album. Am Universum is really solid and the best Amorphis album in the Pasi Koskinen era. Even if Amorphis had chosen to concentrate largely on death metal, they would have been one of the best bands ever. This is a band that has been around since 1990 and has made each one of their albums work out well. Shining is a song about someone who feels that his spirit is bleeding and his body is aching. He wants to get over that rainbow and to be able to shine again and be the person that he once was. He is surrounded by people that he cannot trust. The Way is a song about someone that wonders how far he can go in life as he tries to go through the seas of life, to get calmer after a storm has passed. The song refers that sea as the sea of madness. No matter how many times we fail in life to improve our standing in life, we must persist and stick to that plan to improve ourselves. Life will have peaks and low points and it is never constant. He wants wise advice, on how he can live in the present, live the moment.

"Nightfall" the Best Song In Tuonela

No mention of Amorphis can be complete without mentioning the song "Nightfall." This song features Pasi’s best and most melodic vocals. It is also the strongest song in the album. Nightfall is a song about a plague that spreads through the land destroying all the crops. The cows can no longer give out milk because they too have been affected by this plague. The man that has sorrow on his face ventures father into the wilderness in search of land that is suitable for crops. Tuonela is the weakest album that I have heard from Amorphis but it is still a good one even for the biggest fans of the band.

"Nightfall" (classic Amorphis song)

Strongest Song In Tuonela

What is the strongest song in the album Tuonela?

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The Song "Summer's End"

"The Way"

A Look at the Album Tuonela 20 Years Later

Tuonela was one of those albums that I did not consider an elite album but it certainly wasn’t bad. Just like we did with the album “The Karelian Isthmus” we will take a look back at an album that in 2019 turns 20 years old. I know that time flies by fast that’s for sure. Pasi Koskinen’s vocals especially in the song Nightfall show that he was a good fit for Amorphis. Do I miss the death metal style that Amorphis used from 1990 through 1996 or so? Not really because this is a band that has always impressed me regardless of the musical style that they used. The ending piano part in Tuonela is a nice way to end the song. Amorphis is more than just a death metal band and they show it also in the song Greed. Is there a sort of musical maturity on this album? Of course there is even though in the song Greed there are still death metal growls. Overall though, Tuonela may still the weakest album for Amorphis in the 1990’s but even so, for their standards it is a good album. Amorphis’ weakest point musically is so much better than many bands.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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