Review Summary: A bittersweet trilogy finale.
When a band builds a thirty-plus year career cemented in a vast portfolio, it becomes an institution that will inevitably serve as a reference for the style in which it gravitates. Finnish Amorphis, with their distinctive melodic (death metal) trademark, are one of the clearest examples supporting this argument. Their catchy signature has become a familiar friend who, despite his predictability, always finds a way to entertain us, if only because of his charming and attractive nature. Although I wasn't seduced by their early albums (which undeniably left their mark on the genre), I've gradually grown closer to the band since Silent Waters
, even considering 2018's Queen of Time
one of the most interesting releases of the latter half of the past decade. If, on the one hand, Amorphis rarely leave their comfort zone (especially since Tomi Joutsen's arrival), on the other, their song-oriented compositions have gained more focus as a result of greater collective and creative maturity. And I've always had a soft spot for good, simple songs, however conventional their structures may be.
As expected, Amorphis' fourteenth studio album follows the melodic pattern of previous releases, concluding the trilogy begun seven years ago with Under the Red Cloud
. With a narrative that orbits ancient Northern myths translated from archaic Finnish poetry (courtesy of Pekka Kainulainen), Halo
casts a familiar atmosphere, yet with a more down-to-earth feel that somehow sets it apart from Queen of Time
. While there are epic segments and ambitious orchestrations in songs like 'Seven Roads Come Together' or the title track, there's a more simplistic aura throughout Halo
that gives it a flatter dynamic. Something that might actually appeal to the more orthodox fanbase that usually favors guitar-driven soundscapes. Guitars now take on a more prominent role, providing a slightly heavier personality to the album. 'War', with its punchy main riff, stands as the most obvious example of this more straightforward approach. Tomi Joutsen's greater use of growls is also a driving force, pushing the record into more "metal" territory while being the most intense tone of its sound palette.
There is a sense of continuity and coherence throughout Halo
, as if all songs were somehow connected by an invisible thread. While this bond is synonymous with stylistic cohesion, it hinders the emergence of greater contrasts along the journey or moments that truly stand out from the whole. The epic sections embedded in the title track and 'War' or the powerful final segments of 'On the Dark Waters' and 'When the Gods Came' seem to contradict this idea, yet despite their undeniable virtues, they didn't impress me as much as other songs in the trilogy, such as 'The Bee', 'Amongst Stars' or 'Under the Red Cloud'. I would say that while there are no weak spots in Halo
, it never transcends itself. Which leaves the listener with a somewhat bittersweet feeling. This dichotomy, however, does not call into question either the album's melodic value or the professionalism of those who shaped it. At this stage of their journey, Amorphis are a reliable, well-oiled Finnish machine that, despite its minor imperfections, always delivers a quality product that puts them at the top of the food chain.
Whichever way we look at Halo's
homogeneity, its consistency is undeniable. Much like an aircraft carrier too heavy to suddenly change direction, Amorphis concludes the trilogy with a bittersweet familiar narrative that, despite its slightly heavier tone, does not deviate from the original concept. And while it doesn't reach the peaks of the previous two chapters, it honors the legacy of a collective that blends melody and heaviness like few others.