Atomic Fire Records
Released: February 11, 2022
The mighty Amorphis return with Halo, their fourteenth studio album, out soon through Atomic Fire Records.
Strange to say, Halo is the fourteenth studio album from Finland’s always impressive Amorphis. Long since the band unleashed one of the classic death metal records of the 90s, Tales From The Thousand Lakes, and far removed from the sounds found on that fantastic record, to say Amorphis have come a long a way is a massive understatement. Tales From The Thousand Lakes was probably the last time the term death metal would have been applied to the band, and many a fan was quite astonished when their My Kantele EP came out; which were acoustic songs based on Finnish folklore, and a style that Amorphis would fully adopt on future records, slowly reverting back to heavy tones as each record advanced along their path.
With Halo, the growling death metal vocals are used as frequently as the clean singing that Tomi Joutsen is better known for- an aspect that has slowly been creepy back for the past few records now. So much so, that it almost feels strange to be hearing so much of it, despite it being a major staple of their early recordings. As the record hinds on, the duel vocal stylings work more and well in symbiosis – Halo seemingly blends days or yore with latter day Amorphis.
Starting off with Northwards, Amorphis dive right into it with a thunderous track that could have easily been part of 1999’s Tuonela album, replete with wonderful female backing vocals and a pulsating rhythm like only Amorphis can create. Eventually drifting into a great keyboard passage and back to the pulsating guitar passage. It is safe to day, that right from the get-go, it is obvious that Amorphis are on track and have a stunning record about to unveil itself.
See Also: Ghost “Hunter’s Moon” Review
From this point on, the record just gets better and better. Next up, to me, is the best song on the album, On The Dark Waters. Starting off slowly, with a solid growling vocal, before the clean singing really grabs a hold of the track, and the powerful voice of Joutsen really allows itself to prevail. Powerful no matter which style he is bellowing out at the time, especially when like on a song such as On The Dark Waters, where he gets to sink his teeth into a chorus with such vigor.
The Moon, the album’s third track and first single, follows where On The Dark Waters leaves off, and with equally impressive results. Similar in that it starts off slowly, before building up into a fine tune. Progressive and beautiful, with an incredible production value that fully surrounds the listener, especially if using quality headphones while experiencing this recording. Throughout the eleven compositions that make up Halo, Amorphis consistently find ways to create immerse soundscapes, ripe with interesting and melodic guitars, fantastic choruses and intertwined with the harshness of a death metal guttural growl, creating something I believe any fan of extreme music can appreciate.
The vibrant, lively, and touching beauty that is Halo highlights their musical and storytelling mastership on a once again soaring level. It’s a progressive, melodic, and quintessentially melancholic heavy metal masterwork plucked from the fickle void of inspiration by original guitarists Esa Holopainen and Tomi Koivusaari, bassist Olli-Pekka Laine, drummer Jan Rechberger, longtime keyboardist Santeri Kallio, vocalist Tomi Joutsen, renowned Swedish producer Jens Bogren. Considering the band’s prolonged journey in the forefront of innovative metal music, it’s difficult to grasp how Amorphis manages to raise the proverbial bar time and time again, presenting a more than worthy finale to the trilogy begun with 2015’s Under The Red Cloud followed by 2018’s Queen Of Time.
“From day one, Pekka Kainulainen has always been an enthusiastic and prolific lyricist for Amorphis,” says Joutsen. “It is a slow process of translating archaic Finnish poetry into English and adapting it our progressive rhythms. Fortunately, Kainulainen does everything on time and with great care.” Kainulainen, of course, is a Finnish artist who has been working with Amorphis since 2007’s Silent Waters, and writes lyrics for the band, in Finnish, which are then translated into English for the final product.
Amorphis are a band that have been on heavy rotation throughout my adult life. From high school, where I stumbled upon the band on a …Death Is Just The Beginning III compilation, bought their at the time recent record, Tales From The Thousand Lakes and have adored them ever since. Generally speaking, I tend to be hard on bands that change styles once they’ve began their journey, but I simply can’t say a word against Amorphis and the path they have chosen to walk. Halo is yet another fantastic record in a long lineage of fantastic albums.
Copies of the new record can be pre-ordered from Atomic Fire Records, available on vinyl, compact disc and all that digital streaming stuff, too. If you’re into that sort of thing.
For Fans Of: Swallow The Sun, Insomnium, Ensiferum
02. On The Dark Waters
03. The Moon
05. A New Land
06. When The Gods Came
07. Seven Roads Come Together
10. The Wolf
11. My Name Is Night
Pros & Cons
- Fantastic song writing
- Tomi Joutsen's vocals are incredible throughout
- Progressive and fantastic
- There's really not much to dislike here