Under the sea with Tomi Koivuvsaari (Amorphis)

One half of the Amorphis guitar attack tells me stuff...

Tomi Koivusaari is in a cave at the bottom of the ocean. Not really, but that’s how he sounds, such is the terrible phone connection we’re talking on. He’s actually in Finland (he’s just finished lunch) and once we accustom ourselves to the freakish delays on the line, we crack on with our chat about the soon to happen Amorphis Australian tour, the new album, and the band’s new sound.

The band are currently doing the European festival circuit where they’ve been playing a few tracks from their 11th album Circle; how are the fans reacting to the new tunes? “Great – they really seem to be embracing the new songs – we’re looking forward to touring so we can play more stuff from the new album as well as songs from our previous albums too.”

Circle shows off an almost new sound direction for Amorphis, with the guitars right up in the mix; is this due to having Hypocrisy’s Peter Tagtgren as producer? “I think that’s just Peter’s way – he likes to push the guitar sound to the front, and I’m really liking this heavier sound. I hope the fans are too.” Initial reactions seem to suggest they do.

Tomi assures me that Marco Hietala, who produced every album by the band since Far from the Sun (2003) isn’t pissed off about being bypassed for Peter. “We just needed a change; we got to a point where we just didn’t feel the way we were recording to be natural, recording the different parts at different times. This time we went back to the old way of doing things. We all went into the country and spent some time just working on tracks together. I really like the result.”

So why has it taken Amorphis so long to get to Australia? “I don’t know! It’s all about booking agents and management but we’re very happy to be coming. We don’t know what to expect though!”

You’ll be touring for pretty much the remainder of the year, stopping in Japan and China, have you played there before? “We’ve played Japan quite a few times but we’ve never been to China – it’s going to be pretty interesting, I think.” Indeed, China seems to be becoming quite the destination for metal bands. Anywhere that gets in to metal has to have some positives, yes? “Absolutely.”

You’ve been playing together for 23 years; is there a secret to your longevity? “I think it’s that we just do what we like. We don’t try to take each album in a different direction but it just seems to happen. We just let things happen and go with it.”

Circle is the first album for quite some time that isn’t based on the Finnish epic Kalevala, but Tomi assures me that the lyrical change won't impact on the music negatively, “As I said, we write what we like and this time we got Pekka Kainulinen to write his own story.” Pekka has been an integral part of the band for some years now, is he like the seventh member of Amorphis? “Tomi Joutsen (vocals) has known Pekka for a long time; I think he was Tomi’s teacher in art school or something? But he’s a great writer and we love having him write the lyrics. He doesn’t come on tour with us though!”

Getting back to the tour, do you have anything you’d like to say to the Australian fans? “We’ve always had a good fan base in Australia and we’re sorry it’s taken so long for us to get there. We’re really looking forward to coming and everyone should listen to the new album, and back catalogue – we’ll be playing stuff from all of our albums and we can’t wait to see you there!”

And with that Tomi returns to the watery depths…

Amorphis hit Australian shores in October – be there, you fishy fiends…