Releasedate: 11.02.2022 Label: Atomic Fire Records
“Halo” by Finnish progressive death metal band Amorphis is the closing piece to the trilogy that started with “Under the Red Cloud” from 2015 and continued with the masterpiece from 2018 “Queen of Time”. That being said, the question that naturally comes to mind when approaching this continuation in the series is, can they maintain the momentum or even outdo themselves?
At first “Halo” doesn’t strike as such a catchy collection of songs as its predecessor did. It takes a few listens to digest the Amorphis-isms which make up the sauce of their sound (The sound they have been brewing for the past 10-15 years), which is an infusion of: transitions from slow or mellower passages to heavier ones, combining clean vocals and growls, heavy use of organs and keys, folklore, radio friendly hypnotizing arpeggiators, 70s psyche, lots of wah and drops of oriental seasoning here and there. All these exciting elements are present in this record, which makes one think again, what’s the innovation here? Does this band need to move on and further develop their sound? Well, the formula still remains musically interesting, so I think they should continue riding this epic new progressive-folk metal wave which they have worked on for the past 10 years or so, some might disagree.
The album starts off with a layered and moody intro that slowly transitions into the melodic motive that builds up towards the opening riff alongside a fast in-your-face double kick drum groove, the type of drum groove that reminds you that you are listening to Metal. The opening verse is headbanging worthy while the chorus brings back the melody from the intro together with those fast paced rhythms. An interesting surprise was the transition from the second verse to a mellower section with heavy 70s prog rock influenced undertones leading towards an epic choir that opens way again for the closing fast drummed chorus, epic beginning to this album, Northwards is basically Amorphis condensed into a couple of minutes!
The album has a lot of great moments, one of which is one of the singles and killer track “The Moon” and which also serves as the accessible entry point to the album- It includes a mandatory catchy chorus but maintains epic instrumentation as a backbone and a beautiful Amorphis sounding bridge passage before ending the song with an elevated chorus.
Personal favorites of mine are both “A New Land” and “On the Dark Waters”, the latter of which is the second single off this new album. Both have a mix of heavy riffing mixed with oriental scales and sounds sprinkled around for good measure.
“Seven Roads Come Together” brings back the trusty arpeggiator and spreads it around it here and there, but most notably in the intro which is quite reminiscent of 2018s “Queen of time”, this time bringing the oriental scales closer to the chuggy chuggy verse sections. I liked that.
The album closes with the soft and melancholic “My Name is Night” bringing the dynamic range to the silky ballad range, even though the vocal performances are top notch both by lead vocalist Tomi Joutsen and Petronella Nettermalm; towards the latter half of this song, we are reminded of the great musicianship and musical storytelling power these folks yield.
This album continues to use Pekka Kainulainen as main lyricist who takes inspirations from old Finnish poetry and this time builds on ancient times after the ice age when man was searching for new frontiers. At times this album sonically speaking does feel like a representation of Pekka’s idea, especially within the closing track. For those who enjoyed “Queen of Time” this followup record is going to be right up their alley, although it doesn’t stay far away from the footprints set by said predecessor it is a very strong collection of songs that utilizes the Amorphis spices to great taste.
- Tomi Joutsen – Vocals
- Esa Holopainen – Guitar
- Tomi Koivusaari – Guitar
- Santeri Kallio – Keyboards
- Olli-Pekka Laine – Bass
- Jan Rechberger – Drums
- On the Dark Waters
- The Moon
- A New Land
- When the Gods Came
- Seven Roads Come Together
- The Wolf
- My Name Is Night