As kids that were born at the peak of grunge graduate high school and acquire disposable income, the 80's nostalgia that American society has been in the grip of for much of the past decade is quickly giving way to wistfulness for the 90's, which makes it an ideal time for Amorphis to make another bid at semi-stardom.
There was once an era when Amorphis were one of the more experimental, genre-busting metal bands on the planet, but that time has long since past. Elements of their current sound have existed since the beginning, of course, but as of 1999's Tuonela the band have been pretty firmly committed to the same goth-tinged, slick melodic template that owes as much to 90's modern rock as it ever did to death metal.
Basically the only thing that has changed over the years is the degree to which extreme metal rears its head at all, and as the opening strains of "Shades of Grey" swell into bombastic power chords, one is temporarily fooled into believing Circle just might be the heaviest Amorphis album in years.
Fool you one album, shame on them; fool you eight albums, shame on you.
Yep, by the time the chorus on "Shades of Grey" rolls around it's obvious the Finns are up to their same old tricks, but can you blame them? Tomi Joutsen was born to sing this kind of Paradise Lost-lite/pseudo-goth pop stuff, for better or for worse.
It works, if only in increments. Isolated as mixtape fodder, songs like "Into the Abyss" and "The Wanderer" have affectionately yearning choruses that stick in the craw, it's just that too often the remainder of Circle's 46 minute running time serves to undermine the memorable nature of those tunes by shoehorning them amid similar, yet lesser fare. Another generic record to tour off of, basically.