Finnish progressive death metal titans Amorphis are a prime example of a band who have evolved their sound throughout the years. Originally conceived as a death metal band in the early 1990s, they have transcended far above genre boundaries and have incorporated the likes of Viking, Nordic, Folk and Progressive metal themes in to their material.
They have returned with their 14th studio album ‘Halo’ which has been cited as the finale of a trilogy which began with 2015’s ‘Under The Red Cloud’ and subsequently 2018’s ‘Queen of Time.’
The band have said of ‘Halo:’
“this one is a little bit heavier and more progressive but also organic compared to its predecessor” – Esa Holopainen (guitarist)
“it is a slow process of translating archaic Finnish poetry into English and adapting it into our progressive rhythms” – Tomi Joutsen (vocalist)
“filled with adventurous tales about the mythical North, tens of thousands of years ago. The lyrics tell of an ancient time when man wandered to these abandoned boreal frontiers after the Ice Age” – Pekka Kainulainen (lyricist)
The record opens with ‘Northwards,’ a hauntingly dramatic piano/keyboard build-up giving way to a technical guitar melody before descending in to the crushing drums and headbanging-worthy riffage of classic death metal. The vocals alternate between brutally guttural verses and clean/melodic choruses. The organ-style keyboard solo is particularly noteworthy in this track which is just one example of the band’s instrumental prowess throughout the record.
‘On The Dark Waters‘ has a more progressive rock feel compared to the other tracks on the record. With its catchy hooks, contrasting vocals and technical guitar melodies, this track is nothing short of epic. Along with ‘A New Land,’ there is a certain Middle-Eastern vibe to the sound with the noted Sitar solo which once again proves the band’s musical and instrumental prowess.
‘The Moon‘ follows the theme of contrasting vocals for the verses and the choruses however it is accompanied by thunderous drumming, groovy technical riffs and emotive harmonies. This track is nothing short of atmospherically epic, especially with the added layer of the ethereal female vocalisation.
The title track begins the home stretch of the record, invoking powerful and evocative imagery with predominantly clean vocals offset by female harmonies and a stunning soundscape. This sets the pace for the finale, ‘My Name Is Night‘ featuring a duet from Petronella Nettermalm of ‘Paatos,’ a Swedish rock band which was formed in 1999. A stunningly ethereal ballad encapsulating a melancholic mood perfectly closing what could be considered a subtly dark record.
With epic instrumentals, melodic soundscapes and dramatic orchestral elements, Halo has plenty to get stuck in to without it becoming to weighted down or overbearing. Once again, Amorphis have produced an absolutely stunning work of art. I completely vibed with the epic atmosphere of this record and give it 8.5/10.
Released By: Atomic Fire Records
Release Date: 10th February 2022
For Fans Of: Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium, Dream Theater
Favourite Track(s): Northward, On The Dark Waters, War