For fans of progressive, and seemingly otherworldly, Metal, we are no strangers to the experimental nature that comes with Finland’s Amorphis, and their ever-expanding genre shifts. With Halo arising as the 14th studio album from this progressive death metal sextet, it should come to no one’s surprise that we would be accompanying them once more on a journey through treacherous waters, starlight, and undergrowth.
Released on February 11th, 2022, by Atomic Fire, Halo is an 11-track album that boasts a variety of musical exploration from limitless melodies to divine ballads and everything in-between. It is an album that alerts the senses but, leaves for some fog-covered mystery where you’re unsure if you like every song or you’re simply focused on the journey they’ve put before you.
Our adventure begins on the track “Northwards” that is delicate in its birth, providing us with the limitless melody that encompasses the album. It’s a high build of keys and tension that translate into complex guitars and masterful drumming that echo forth into chaos. Vocals are heavy and harsh in their introduction, gradually descending into the cleaner chorus and enigmatic performance we know common to Amorphis. It’s musically layered with acoustic-style at the midway point, enhanced by electronic keys and mystifying, almost 70’s-like harmonies. It’s a strange yet, welcome shift as Amorphis continues their untamed performance from complexities to catchy simplicity in tones that run from madness to optimism in quick, seamless bursts.
“On The Dark Waters” is an adventurer’s starting steps forward to the end. A journey down river as a means to a fiery end. The lyrics are deep and expressive as they tell their tale of the world beyond death in bursts of vocal prowess. Solos are otherworldly, taking the winding of a sailing ship into its core and harnessing such spirit into its chords.
“Waiting at the dark headwaters, were a people sullen silent. Baying for that ship to take their dead downstream.” – is a beautiful expressive line that will appease those who certainly seek a track with lyrical detail.
Tracks like, “The Moon” start on sky high slinging strings, energized by the steady beat of drums. Low, rhythmic bass is speedy, keeping harmonies unified despite alterations and quick pace changes. Vocals stretch their skill on this track from harsh lows to beautifully held highs that are alluring and dark. It’s a fragile track on a musical level, as if playing in shallow waters for safety.
“If you bow to the eye of stone, you’ll hear a distant song. How story carried by the restless wind forevermore.” There’s a carefully crafted orchestration near the end that’s mysterious and amplifies this serenade to the moon as embraced by a woman’s vocal hymn and eerie melody.
As we continue, we are met with “A New Land” that’s speedy, deep, and adventurous in its execution. It’s hard to dislike the melody of this tune and it quickly plucks you off the ground to take you on some new path. There’s mysterious guitars, quick drums, and swift bass that are unified by gorgeous vocals that push us forward. Easily one of my favourite tracks for its haunting melody, and its musical storytelling.
“Seven Roads Come Together” is a musically ambitious track with cinema-level instrumentals. It’s a heavy-hitting song that cranks out the intensity with vocal elegance and musical grace. The battering of constant, epic level instrumentals result in a track that’s both expressive and mesmerizing. The mix of darkened lows and rapid highs meld the seven roads to truly bind them both in vocal and musical development. This is a track to be played loud and on repeat with the divine guitar solos and sing-along shouting that cannot possibly be resisted.
The title track off the album, “Halo”, begins in a daze of radiating energy that’s breath-taking; a musical high that crashes into vocal lightness that builds the emotion of this track with lyrical intricacies and passion. One of the strongest tracks on the album, as it should be, this song is glorious. It makes you feel like you’re watching the rising sun against a once darkened horizon, fearing the worst but letting the flicker of hope that remains burn brightly until the morn.
And along comes the end; one that completely blew me away and has remained as one of my most-played songs of 2022 thus far. It’s hit daily replays on my playlist, easily snaking its way in to settle upon my very soul. “My Name Is Night” features Petronella Nettermalm (Paatos) in a heart-wrenching track filled with sorrowful lyrics and tear-jerking instrumentals. The contrast of vocals between Tomi Joutsen and Petronella is haunting, sending shivers down the spine, and a tear down even the most unwilling cheek. Guitars are flawless, unleashing raw emotion against an already painful backdrop that evokes story and memory in seamless form.
“My name is night. My sword has been bent and broken. My story’s burned to cinder. And my life’s been sung away,” is a heavy bit of half-chorus that only embraces the flood gates for the ones that follow. It’s powerful, almost eclipsing the rest of the album with its undeniable beauty and abrasion.
Listen to “My Name is Night” on Spotify here.
If you’ve yet to give this album your complete attention, you need to do so, immediately. Each track seeps into the next, carrying a sorrowful tale that still holds a candle of hope against darkened waters. There is a mix of metal sub-genres that can appeal to any listener’s taste and leave this album as one of the best releases 2022 has yet to offer.
Favourite Tracks: Halo, A New Land, Northwards, On The Dark Waters, and most of all My Name Is Night.
Order your copy of Amorphis’ “Halo” here!