ALBUM REVIEW: Amorphis – Halo


Amorphis is one of those bands that marches to the beat of their own drum. They are a major-league act that has elegantly evolved over the years and is known for their ever-developing style. They are beloved because they master innovation while remaining tried and true to their uncommon sound. For over three decades, this six-piece has accomplished the reputation of being one of the main contributors to establishing the Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal genre. Looking through their delightfully diverse discography, it’s a small wonder as to why they have gained such acclaim.

Now, they are at it again as they prepare to release their fourteenth full-length, Halo (Atomic Fire Records). It’s been four years since their well-received Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast) album and this record feels like the natural next step. It continues to carry the robust Melodic Death Metal themes while incorporating a few more bells and whistles.

The band is well-known for drawing their inspiration from the epic poem, The Kalevala. Pekka Kainulainen is a lyricist who remarks on the poem’s beautiful, sad stories about everything from wild beasts to warriors. Amorphis then brings these words to life. First up, ‘Northwards’ begins as a gray, uncertain, and misty horizon that unveils itself in the folds of a poignant instrumental opening that builds into an urgent pronouncement of the dire and dreamy. This leads to an edict of the band’s utter fortitude of seasoned ability to stoke nerves that engages passion. They have released a music video for their second track, ‘On the Dark Waters’ where they are able to capture the Scandinavian heart of wistful thoughtfulness. The well-executed trill and thunder of guitarists Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari leaves one in a trance of vibrancy and cool.

The catchy choruses on songs like ‘The Moon’, ‘Seven Roads Come Together’, and ‘Halo’ reveal Tomi Joutsen‘s expanded vocal range. His wails are given with a gut-felt sincerity that provides an eagerness that ignites and accelerates emotion. His cleans are touched with a grace and clarity while his growls kick up gravel and spew venom. The contrast reveals the man’s one-of-a-kind ability to serenade and scare.

 

Each number carries a progressive edge that is expressed through the innovative tones by Holopainen and Santeri Kallio‘s work on the keys. The dynamic grooves and tasty tempos unleashed shows the character and innovation of the band. Plus, the added orchestral and choral arrangements provided by Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s Francesco Ferrini hauls this album to a higher level of epicness. While the scale seems to grow on each track, there are moments that cater to their folk roots which exudes a dignified and delicate simplicity.

The middle of the album hits: ‘A New Land’ is reminiscent of the group’s admired album Eclipse (Nuclear Blast). There is a high energy and perkiness in many of these pieces that reflect the band’s earlier days of intensity. The head bobs with the mixed movements that sparkle and smear into each other throughout the songs. The thrum and hum breaths an eager, shrewd, and bright competence.

 

The listener reaches the ‘The Wolf’ which is a highlight of heaviness that hints at the band’s early days heard on Tales from the Thousand Lakes (Relapse Records) because it flirts with some Black and Death Metal influences. It reminds the listener of the various depths and darkness that this act can reach. Their ambient melancholy moments are magical while their storms of raucous deeply resonate. One hears some impressions of the past and then the electronic elements reveal a contemporary side. The ebb and flow throughout this record evokes elation and excitement.

 

The time flies as one is serenaded by Kalevala‚Äôs tales of triumph and tragedy. ‘My Name is Night’ wraps things up atmospherically and beams with a female guest vocalist who joins Joutsen. They end on a note that fits the Finnish spirit that is beautifully pensive, moving, and moody.

 

Amorphis continues to prove that they have generous amounts of heavy, thoughtful, and creative material to share. As one who is still digesting and contemplating this new release, I am already looking forward to the next step.

Buy the album here: https://music.atomicfire-records.com/halo

8 / 10

RAGIN ROSIE