Amorphis have been a staple at the RMR ‘zine since its inception. And I admit, in the beginning, we did not quite appreciate the quality enough that this band brings to the table. Under The Red Cloud was a hard sell at first, even if it finally made it into our good graces, and it stayed there ever since. The sturdier and well-fashioned Queen of Time added nicely to the relatively meager pickings on our blog for 2018. And indeed, this record morphed yet again into one of the staples over here, and rightly so.
Now, does that mean that Amorphis would be predictable? Well, not quite. That would be way too simplistic a view. Instead, try steady delivery of metal quality. These guys might take their sweet time for new stuff, but once they do, their music just sticks. So, after over 30 years of pretty excellent songwriting, Halo reaches our review pipe. Will this new blurb keep par with its older records at all?
Well, first off, this is one of those leopards that won’t change its spots. The true Amorphis sound shines through at any moment. If there is anything, this fresh and last installment of the trilogy reaches beyond Under the Red Cloud and well into the past. Queen of Time and its sharply snappy modern metal airs clearly seem to be yesterday’s news. And in comes that typical sound of one of the biggest metal music bands currently on offer. Talk about a friggin’ Halo, will ya?
As we have become accustomed to, the record runs on a spiffy production that knows no hard edges. In other words, this is an act that won’t leave anything to chance, and so they should. Not at any moment will elements disappear in the mix. The Holopainen / Koivusaari tag team smoothly churns out outstanding guitar wares. The folksy undercurrents and tastily arranged symphonic strains are still here, as on former records. Thus, the musical craftsmanship is, as always, outstanding and Joutsen‘s vocals flawless, albeit that the clears took the upper hand on Halo here. There’s indeed no huge screaming metal tsunami that roars your way on hard edges and rusty steel. For sure.
In other words, yours truly here just described a production and mixing job by Jens Bogren. Amorphis contracted him for the trilogy, starting with Red Cloud, and it shows. This is just a thundering good production that the RMR crew here had trouble finding fault with.
Now, whilst this is good news for Bogren and clear testament to Amorphis‘ minute attention to quality and flawless execution, there can also be too much of that. Halo here sails a tad too near to the awful abyss of predictability. Or how to explain that I can somehow foresee what comes next? The comfortable and comfortably established Amorphis sound truly cannot be the only explanation.
One could of course argue that the beautiful female vocals by Swedish vocalist Petronella Nettermalm (Paatos) will provide a counterweight. But that’s far from new1) on Amorphis‘ records, so no dice. And let’s not forget that many a beastly metalhead might object to My Name is Night. For the simple reason that it’s no metal,2) the animals.
Ultimately, Amorphis‘ large fan crowd will find a lot to like on Halo. This is metal for the refined, way out of the sharp clutches of the underground. The RMR deckhands relished the adroitly produced tracks, each one machined to a point and impeccably executed. A tour-de-force of a metal record, made by master artificers of the metal arts.
Although that a bit more grime and grit would have added that much more spice to the fray. But that’s something RMR here will be looking for on their next album. Meantime, we’ll lean back and enjoy some more Halo.