Album Review – Amorphis “Magic & Mayhem” 2010

  Magic & Mayhem is the same type of project as Arch Enemy’s The Root of All Evil, a re-recording of early hits with new band personnel. In particular, these versions of songs from Amorphis’ first three records seem like studio mountings of the live performances found on the already-excellent  Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes. Truth be told, if budget is a consideration for you, get that release instead of this one if you want to hear Tomi Joutsen sing the hits.
 
These tracks are lusty, tightly-played and very well-engineered, but none is particularly superior to the originals (the same can be said of the Arch Enemy project). Indeed, Esa Holopainen is clear in the liner notes that this is all in fun and nothing was meant to be supplanted. There are some high points of selection, such as the inclusion of “On Rich and Poor” and the band’s go-to cover “Light My Fire”. Also, as a gift for those of us who could never decide whether we loved the acoustic or the rock version of “My Kantele” more, it is here presented as a clever amalgamation.
 
A last, niggling nitpick, perhaps caused by the nature of compilations, as it wouldn’t have been as noticeable within the flow of an album: Joutsen begins each song with an identical vocal line, growling “Rrrroooiiiiiyyyyeee!!!!” as if issuing a battle challenge to Canadian whiskey. The man is good at what he does, and has been a godsend to the band, but this repetition makes Magic & Mayhem seem a bit hurried and artificial. Don’t panic – Amorphis 3.0 is the Pixar of metal; they don’t produce bad material. This release is just more of a curiosity than a knockout. 7 out of 10

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