Richard G. : The artist or band whose career shows a constant creative climb has yet to appear in the scene. Most probably this will actually never happen. Even though it can be hard to accept for some that their favourite group is indeed fallible (for example the die-hard fan who is so blinded by loyalty that s/he keeps proclaiming that 'Ghost Reveries', 'Believe In Nothing' or 'St. Anger' is a pretty strong album in some respects), nothing rings more true. The new Amorphis record 'The Beginning Of Times' might not be as disappointing as the records mentioned (though 'Far From The Sun' was!), the decline in quality compared to 'Skyforger' (2009) and the first creative low in years are rather disturbing.
The musical formula that started with 2006's 'Eclipse' was perfected with each album that followed, but the logical consequence of adhering to exactly the same methods every time is that at some point the material is going to sound, well, formulaic. And that moment has come now. Tomi Joutsens mighty primordial roar competing with his fragile clean voice, the perfect song structures, the subtle folk influences: we have heard it all before. Amorphis is way too experienced and seasoned for it to sound bad, but it is more of the same. With every predictable turn in the songs, the feeling that the Fins pooped one out whilst on automatic pilot becomes stronger. Some female backing vocals here or some extremely poppy tendencies there (cf. 'You I Need' below): these 'new' elements are by far not enough to speak of a further perfectioning of the by now tried Amorphis sound.
The fact that 'The Beginning Of Times' is also the fourth full-length in effectively five years (and that is disregarding 'Magic & Mayhem') probably does not help in this respect either. Despite their solid metal craftsmanship, only the true and most devout fan will be able to survive what is starting to become an Amorphis overdose.