Finnish legends Amorphis are back with Halo, their fourteenth album and the final chapter in a trilogy that includes the stellar Under The Red Cloud and Queen Of Time. The band continue with their trademark style, adroitly mixing death metal heaviness with power metal, symphonic metal, folk elements, and progressive tendencies and in the process showing us why they continue to be the preeminent melodic death metal band on the planet.
“Northwards” is a majestic opening track that brings all of Amorphis’ elements into play in five minutes. “A New Land” is as huge as “Northwards,” with soaring feel-good verses, a big riff beneath a killer solo, and some perfectly-placed female backing vocals. Lyrical content, as always provided by Pekka Kainulainen, focuses on epic mythical tales of an ancient North.
The title track, like many of the songs here, is a rousing number more on the power/symphonic side of things, with a keyboard solo and intro, but beautifully arranged and again the inclusion of female backing vocals provides additional depth. Final song “My Name is Night,” a duet with Petronella Nettermalm, brings Halo to a fitting, mellow conclusion.
While overall the heaviness of the band might be dialed down a bit here, the material on Halo is no less engaging. Amorphis have mastered the art of crafting melodic earworms that seem a lot heavier than they are due to Tomi Jousten’s harsh vocals, but musically this is a very accessible album.
A few songs do have a heavier bent to them, though. “War” is one of those songs, with heavy riffing and a thunderous pre-chorus. The presence of a choir in the middle of the song might lead one to believe “War” isn’t that heavy, but listen to the music beneath the choir, and Jousten’s enraged vocals after it; this is a heavy song. “The Wolf” is a number with a stripped-down aggressive sound to it and a propulsive rhythm. Both cuts are stellar, and perhaps stand out due to the added heaviness present.
Much like Queen Of Time when we reviewed it here back in 2018, there really isn’t much to nitpick on Halo. Jens Bogren’s production is bang on, and while the mastering is of course on the loud side it doesn’t impact our enjoyment of the material. The band plays beautifully, Jousten’s voice is still in prime form and the song arrangements are suitably epic and meticulously thought out.
Many bands that have been around this long have begun their slow slide into mediocrity, but more than three decades into an undeniably legendary career Amorphis show no signs of slowing down, once again releasing an amazing album that will deservedly perch near the top of many year-end lists in 2022.
(released February 11, 2022 on Atomic Fire Records)
Heavy Music HQ Rating
Watch Amorphis – “The Moon” Video