Amorphis - Halo (Atomic Fire Records)
Updated: Mar 27
There is something about the sound of Finnish metal bands that so perfectly captures their homeland's spirit of nature and wonder. Nightwish shows us the beauty of the northern lights in winter, Korpiklanni brings small, old world villages to life, and Children of Bodom took us for a run with the wolves in the night before their untimely disbandment.
Like their countryfolk, Amorphis has done these things and more for over 30 years and have returned once again to bring the voice of Finland to the world with their new album, Halo (Atomic Fire Records). Epic and mighty, Halo seems to embody the Finnish wilderness: a near fantasyland of endless lakes and towering trees. Serving as the perfect travel companion, the journey is long and there is much to experience over the eleven tracks.
The adventure begins with the appropriately titled "Northward," a galloping song that perfectly balances vocalist Tomi Jousten's fierce growls and soaring clean voice. Passing into a progressive section that would earn a nod from any Dream Theater fan, lead guitarist Esa Holopainen and keyboardist Santeri Kallio trade off excellent solo sections.
As the two singles for the album released so far, "On The Dark Waters" and "The Moon" are a collective ten minutes of infectious melodies and excellent grooves. The latter treads close to the realm of bands such as Epica and Opeth, while also adding in a synth section reminiscent of the Brian Ferry song "Is Your Love Strong Enough?" from the film Legend. Will you cry or smile in the presence of "The Moon", especially when guest vocalist Noa Gruman's haunting notes ring out?
Continuing the trek through the north is "A New Land" and the incredible "Seven Roads Come Together". Both songs signal the the path ahead is more rugged, but it can be overcome with enough determination. At last, the title track is your welcome to the land of the midnight sun and rains down light and power from beyond the stars. After all this, "My Name Is Night" is a somber torch to light the way back home and lull all weary travelers to sleep.
The Metal Mayan rating: 5/5
I hope to some day visit the incredible wilds of Finland, but after this album, I feel like it will be a return to something familiar instead of a new experience. Amorphis went above and beyond in bringing their homeland to my doorstep. I have to call out "Seven Roads Come Together", "Halo" and "My Name Is Night" as tracks I highly recommend.
From the first notes, I knew "The Moon" was going to be a favorite. But once the synth section came in and reminded me of what made the aforementioned Brian Ferry classic so special to me, it was absolute love. To answer my own question, I got a bit misty eyed with this one.
Visit your local record store and pick up a copy of Halo, out 11 February on Atomic Fire Records. Be sure to catch Amorphis on tour in the U.S. this April and May.
Advance copy courtesy of Earsplit PR/Earsplit Compound and Atomic Fire Records