Following on from 2018’s immense Queen of Time, Amorphis have returned to once again treat us with 56 minutes of splendid music.
Boasting big songs and bigger choruses, Amophis’ new album is once again packed with well-crafted songwriting, catchy melancholic melodies, and vocals that can do no wrong. The band’s approach of juxtaposing heaviness and growls with epic atmosphere and soaring clean singing is well-established at this point, and it’s great to hear some new material from this group of master craftsmen. Obviously there’s more to their songs than my simplistic description, but it gives you the idea; balancing melodic aggression with epic character, Amorphis remain pretty untouchable when it comes to progressive folk-tinged heavy metal.
So is Halo just more of the same from this metal titan? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that it is instantly recognisable as the Amorphis that so many know and love, but no in the sense that each album has its own personality, and this new one is no exception. Halo is arguably both heavier and darker than some of the band’s output, but also has more of a brighter, progressive outlook in places.
The increased heaviness lends much of the music a more direct feel, offering a refined version of the band’s style. This has the effect of making the epic aspects of the music even more epic, which works really well. The progressive and folk elements of the music sound more playful and spacey on occasion, while at other times are as epic and grandiose as you might expect.
The songs are all full of catchiness and hooks, the likes of which most bands would kill for. Amorphis really do have an impressive songwriting talent, but then they’ve been around more than long enough to demonstrate that over and over again. Also, there are some shockingly good riffs here too.
It occurs to me that there are more echoes of the band’s earlier work spread out across Halo than has necessarily been apparent on their last couple of albums, which is consist with the greater progressive/folk feeling in parts of these new songs. This is also shown in some of the sections where the band are clearly pushing themselves just that little bit further, testing the boundaries of their core style to good effect.
Halo is another stellar record from Amorphis. Very few bands three decades into their existence can put out music as high quality as this, and I’m very grateful for and in awe of the fact that Amorphis remain at the top of their game.