Review by Krys on April 25, 2001.
To tell you the truth I wasn’t impressed with their previous album "Tuonela" and to say the least I was a little worried about one of the greatest bands that ever played metal. And what a surprise! Prepare yourself for what might be one of the best albums of this year.
Before I tell you anything about this release I have to ask you for a definition of a music style called ‘metal.’ If it’s a style of music with heavy, distorted guitar, screaming vocals and blasting drums then this opus is certainly not, but please don’t leave yet. If you are a fan of Amorphis or music in general you’ll find the most passionate and complete work to date from these extraordinary talented guys.
As I expected, based on the previous release, the vocals are 99% clean now. The 1% stands for a rather emotional exclamation point rather than metal growls. Without going too deep into description of Pasi Koskinen’s voice I can easily say that I’ve never heard him so emotional and involved. You almost get the feeling that things he sings about are so close to him it almost hurts.
The music layer is just exceptional. The sound, harmony or overall atmosphere is extremely well composed and will stay for days in your head. Guitarists Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivussari treat us with an unlimited amount of great riffs which, combined with Santeri Kallio’s synth effects and his almost 70s classic sounding Hammond organs, create something such unique and beautiful to the human ear it’s almost scary. And that’s not all, session saxophonist Sakari Kukko, who, by the way, plays an almost leading role on this album, brings probably the best warm-sounding sax passages I’ve ever heard. And if we add to this mix a perfectly dark-grooving rhythm section of Amorphis’ new bassist Niclas Etelavouri and Pekka Kasari’s drums, I won’t even start picking best songs ‘cause I don’t hear any weak ones.
By saying all that some of you are probably thinking I smoke too much. Maybe I do, but if you are a real music lover and you don’t care about music style boundaries you will listen to "Am Universum" at least three times a day like I do.
Bottom Line: If you have at least a little appreciation for beauty you can’t miss this one, otherwise hide in your basement and pretend I’m a spider-loving-hate-breathing-shit-eating son of a devil.
Rating: 10 out of 10