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Amorphis - Halo Award winner

Amorphis
Halo
by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 05 February 2022, 7:41 AM

The longer a band’s career is, the higher is the probability of something fails in music. There are infinite examples that can be a proof of such words in music’s history. But (and pay close attention to this ‘but’) there are bands that refuses to work on a way that their best can’t be presented in their works, as they want to create a line of continuous classic albums. And one of these bands is the Finnish sextet AMORPHIS, because since the coming of “Eclipse” (2006), they’re delivering excellent albums, and their latest album, “Halo”, is another masterpiece.

Their musical formula isn’t easy to explain in few words: it’s a fusion between aggressiveness and melancholy (the vocals contrasts between clean and grunts can depict such thing clearly), Metal elements with lysergic/psychedelic influences of Hard Rock and Progressive Rock from the late 60’s/early 70’s (elements that can be clearly heard on “Northwards” due the keyboards and solos), good technical level with good taste and catchy moments (pay attention on the rich arrangements of “The Moon” to check such aspect), always with a deeper and excellent set of landscaping musical ambiences. It’s musically rich, but yet easy to be assimilated. And “Halo” can be seen as a continuity of what’s heard on “Queen of Time” (2018), but not sounding as a copy of it (because it seems a bit more stripped down, not as complex as its antecessor). And what a great and lovely energy flows from its songs, along with charming melodic hooks, improved by orchestrations and some choirs (again, “Northwards” shows this).

Once more, the band had Jens Bogren taking care of the production, helping the band to achieve their goal. The sonority is a perfect mix between a modern and defined sonority with aspects of the past, with everything in a high level of quality. It’s aggressive and heavy, but clean and shows a good taste in the care of things. Once again, the band had the help of Pekka Kainulainen on the lyrics (due his experience on dealing with Kalevala’s mythological/cultural content), and the guests Francesco Ferrini (on the orchestrations) and Petronella Nettermalm on the female vocals of “My Name is Night”.

The set of 11 songs that are presented on “Halo” was chosen between 30 songs, and it’s the real thing of what the band can do. “Northwards” is a mighty blow of energy, filled with excellent arrangements on guitars and keyboards, and it’s not hard to be assimilated by the fans due the excellent melodies (and the choirs are a great element heard). And the same can be heard on “On the Dark Waters”, especially on the guitars Progressive/Oriental melodies’ parts. The melancholic and powerful sewing shown on the technical arrangements of “The Moon” is usual for the band, but always based on elegant details (especially on the keyboards). And “Windmane” is another song with contrasts between clean parts and energetic moments (a bit aggressive than usual due the dragon-like grunts), and with some Progressive Rock/Jazz orientated technical outfit.

Showing a more accessible side of the band’s music (even with the aggressive grunts), “A New Land” comes to be a live hit, boosted by the landscaping keyboards and guitar arrangements. And using a more aggressive side (that reminds some guitar tunes used in 1996’s “Elegy”), “When the Gods Came” shows a very catchy and accessible set of melodies and chorus. “Seven Roads Come Together” is showing some sets of 80’s Pop-like arrangements combined with hooking AMORPHIS-like usual melodic outfit (and what great work on bass guitar and drums can be heard on the creation of rhythmic changes). An aggressive aesthetics is combined by some simple melodies during “War”, and it’s another excellent moment of bass guitar and drums.

As a title track, “Halo” carries a lot of responsibility, but it’s worthy of it, because the song bears a melodic sheath that is typical of Finnish Metal, along with the elegant and deeply melancholic clean interpretation of the vocals (but the harsh parts are good as well). And “The Wolf” shows an aggressive and spontaneous approach in some moments that reminds the early days of the band (plenty of aggressive guitar riffs and grunts (but don’t worry, there are melodic parts to create the right balance on the song). Closing the album comes “My Name is Night”, a song based on clean chords and with some violins, with heavy crescendos, but without tearing apart the tender and silky ambience.

It’s obvious that this is a long review, indeed, trying to express in the best way possible what “Halo” stands for. But after all, AMORPHIS deserves it, and it’s not a coincidence to see them as a Metal U2, because have the right appeal and talent to become the next greatest name of Metal. If you doubt of such words, feel yourself challenged to listen to this album.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Northwards
2. On the Dark Waters
3. The Moon
4. Windmane
5. A New Land
6. When the Gods Came
7. Seven Roads Come Together
8. War
9. Halo
10. The Wolf
11. My Name is Night
Lineup:
Tomi Joutsen - Vocals
Esa Holopainen - Lead Guitars
Tomi Koivusaari - Rhythm Guitars
Santeri Kallio - Keyboards
Olli-Pekka Laine - Bass
Jan Rechberger - Drums
Record Label: Atomic Fire Records
     


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