Metal Storm logo
Amorphis - Halo review




Bandcamp music player
Reviewer:
4.5

412 users:
8.22
Band: Amorphis
Album: Halo
Release date: February 2022


01. Northwards
02. On The Dark Waters
03. The Moon
04. Windmane
05. A New Land
06. When The Gods Came
07. Seven Roads Come Together
08. War
09. Halo
10. The Wolf
11. My Name Is Night [feat. Petronella Nettermalm]
12. The River Song [Japanese bonus]


A mediocre effort from a good band. Poorly composed, with little thought into what ideas to include and how long to dwell on them. A collection of B-sides that haven't made it on past records?

Shortly put, Amorphis's Halo lacks balance, with too many unconnected (by key perhaps, though they change it too often) themes thrown into the bunch. The themes don't seem to last long enough and are abandoned mid-flight for a new idea. It's a frustrating listen when a theme you have been about to unravel is lost for something else unconnected.

Take the opening theme from track one. It sort of develops into a guitar-sounding theme. Then comes the disappointment when an utterly unconnected part comes in. Take the Therion-like choir in the same track. It's a surprise to hear those, but how long does Amorphis dwell on it? The motif goes away as soon as it sounded out. There are many other examples of not doing justice to an otherwise good theme. In contrast, the themes that Amorphis chooses to reprise are typical Amorphis grade and nothing short of unmemorable.

The new elements they include aren't exactly new either; instead, they are reminiscent of 1970s-inspired prog: mellotron, cliched high's eq'ed, compressed vocals (which sound like phone speaker with little-to-no bass), Opeth-esque arpeggios etc. Whenever a band does a teaser of new ideas on their albums, I keep asking myself if they do so for the sake of testing their fans or genuinely want those.

Plagued by too many key changes in one song, Halo suffers from overuse of very cliched harmonic minor scale runs several times. This is the thing you do when good musicians, progressively inclined, can't come up with a better way to connect two parts (speaking as an amateur that recognises some elements here and there), but wouldn't we expect more from a band like Amorphis? Nothing on this album feels memorable. Overall, it feels like a commercial effort suited to fit the tastes of progressive music fans looking to hear the usual scale runs, the usual key changes. I have enjoyed their previous albums, some less some more, but this is the epitome of what is wrong with cliched progressive music. Queen Of Time was more balanced and less cliched.

Pursuing this direction runs the risk of being put on the spot and cliches pointed out. A great commercial progressive album, its fans will enjoy it, but haven't we heard all this before on better composed efforts? To me, Halo just feels like this is their bet where the money is nowadays. Perhaps in an era of social media and a plague of short attention spans, one way to get their listener's wallets is to pursue incessant key theme changes, coupled with other progressive cliches? Sprinkle that with a few new ideas and make sure not to dwell on any? I wonder if it will really earn Amorphis more spins (or rather track plays) in the streaming services.

I don't suppose this album will enjoy too many spins after the novelty runs out. It feels a bit like a disposable effort, perhaps in fitting with the times. Or assuming it's catered to a wealthier prog audience that enjoys a poorly planned composition, disguised as a progressive album? The thinking that goes, we'll now pursue more prog since prog pays more (whether collectors, fans or concert goers)? Or maybe I'm wrong, this is the best effort you get when people don't rehearse too much (or not at all, and then do poor composition in the studio) to filter out ideas that just don't work in the long run on a record? Whilst a novel band can be given a laxer review, in view of a developing musicianship, skillset, etc., a seasoned band in the league of Amorphis needs its bar to remain high and the efforts need to be valued on true merit.

I personally admire bands that have the guts to disband, or cease to release new albums, or its members go on to form new projects when they have nothing new to offer or their music isn't genuine but merely commercially driven. The same can be said of bands with label commitments like a release schedule, which runs on the opposite end of artistry. Releasing albums fairly regularly as a way to earn a living for a band like Amorphis may work but seems a bit dubious to me; on the one hand, you may have talent, but on the other, you may get stuck in uninspired craftsmanship, which may lead one to release it quickly without the initial flair in their song writing that bands start off with. It well be where Amorphis are with this album these days.

Despite its professional production, this album earns a 4.5 (slightly better than BAD) from me, in recognition of their potential to do far more, not merely release a rushed hodge-podge of unrehearsed ideas: Halo.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 4
Production: 8

Written by mdx54 | 26.04.2022




Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
musclassia
Rating:
8.3
This is a typical Amorphis album. As in, it’s bloody lovely.

Read more ››
published 10.02.2022 | Comments (23)


Comments

Comments: 15   Visited by: 135 users
27.04.2022 - 02:08
Rating: 9
NavyMetalMan

Great album that I keep coming back to. Disagree wholeheartedly with the review.
Loading...
27.04.2022 - 09:11
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Won't listen this on the regular bases, but then again might be isolation album, money making idea where they left, then again Esas solo album is worst, sounds same and had overated vocalists...
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
29.04.2022 - 17:36
Rating: 4
mdx54

Written by NavyMetalMan on 27.04.2022 at 02:08

Great album that I keep coming back to. Disagree wholeheartedly with the review.

Good for your but how long has it been out to be coming back to the album? Isn't it rather typical to be having an album on repetition after a release?
Every band has some weaker efforts in their discography that aren't re-visited just as often but that is only apparent after some time has passed. Time since release validates whether there is anything to rave about any album.
Loading...
30.04.2022 - 03:29
Rating: 9
NavyMetalMan

I can typically tell fairly quickly if an album is worth the price. This album by the my asessment and the preponderance of reviews has earned better than what you give it. Anyway, your opinion is just that as is my own.
Loading...
01.05.2022 - 01:14
Rating: 4
mdx54

Written by NavyMetalMan on 30.04.2022 at 03:29

I can typically tell fairly quickly if an album is worth the price. This album by the my asessment and the preponderance of reviews has earned better than what you give it. Anyway, your opinion is just that as is my own.


That's the problem with many of the reviews, they're too cautious. I realise many reviews might avoid slamming a band like Amorphis for releasing poor stuff (for its standard of musicianship). Or it could be to avoid releasing an unpopular opinion. Whether not to upset the usual audience or the label, who sent them a pre-release copy. Fandom reviews are just as bad, lacking perspective (many of them on this site). For many reviews on this site anything new that comes out from a big band like Amorphis has to be a 7 at least, undeservedly or not.
I've known this band for over 20 years, and am looking at this as a casual listener, not as a die-hard fan, with the stuff they had released previously in mind. Many reviewers are keen to look past flaws or they plain miss them. It's especially true for progressive releases, where the overall lack of composition is attributed to them being prog releases. Well, I beg to differ. There is good prog stuff and bad prog stuff and this one happens to be a low moment for Amorphis. I don't read reviews straight after a release to avoid getting preconceived ideas about what it might sound like. Many reviews are spur of the moment thing and lacking any degree of objectivity. I know what ails this release and try to name possible reasons WHY a band like Amorphis released this collection of B-sides. I used to have plenty of poor albums on repetition after releases only to come to a realisation they were poor stuff and what made them great for me on initial listens was novelty. Since then, I've matured enough to be more analytical and look more critically at a release. Some poor albums I still like, calling them guilty pleasures. A poor album like this still has some merits, it's just that I know I won't be that keen on coming back to it, in contrast to other releases from Amorphis. The review points out exactly what I find substandard. You are welcome to disagree by all means.
Loading...
04.05.2022 - 20:50
Rating: 9
Tuonelan

Imagine this is the only Amorphis album you have ever heard... Is it still a 4? Imagine the reader has never before heard an Amorphis album and this is what they have in front of them to listen to. Do you imagine that they would listen to this album and agree that it was "bad?" Would listening to it, rather than to Queen of Time, put them off of Amorphis forever?
----
Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy
Loading...
05.05.2022 - 00:43
Rating: 4
mdx54

Written by Tuonelan on 04.05.2022 at 20:50

Imagine this is the only Amorphis album you have ever heard... Is it still a 4? Imagine the reader has never before heard an Amorphis album and this is what they have in front of them to listen to. Do you imagine that they would listen to this album and agree that it was "bad?" Would listening to it, rather than to Queen of Time, put them off of Amorphis forever?

No work exists without context as you seem to wish me review it. No review is ever done with a clean slate mind, where the listener has no prior experience of other works, in this case the band's. Were this release by a new band, I'd still stick with poor composition, perhaps allowing for other factors.
But since it is Amorphis that released this collection of B-sides, it is still a 4.5. I gave my arguments. Even good bands release such albums, for monetary reasons or to part ways with a label. It needn't have all listeners raving equally about them though.

In my view this album makes for a poor introduction to the band. I wouldn't want someone to make the wrong impression about the rest of the band's works based on this one (poorly structured, haphazard composition etc). I cannot speak for other listeners but in my view Halo simply isn't the album to be introduced to Amorphis with.

Besides, a 4.5 is just a single score. I'd be more concerned with too many reviews giving albums post release inadequately elevated scores solely on novelty grounds (or not to disturb a working relationship with a label). A review that does not come from a pre-release reviewer that is on point about what is wrong is still worth more than one that finds little or no flaws. I don't quite understand why there is any expectation for reviews for big bands to be in favour, no matter what they release.

Observe how staff reviews miss their community score after a year has passed. Mark my words, today's score of 8.25 (rounded up to 8.3 unnecessarily) will trail off to 7.3, which it still does not deserve in my view, contrasted with other 7.3 works. It's not memorable unfortunately, nor groundmarking in any sense.
Loading...
05.05.2022 - 02:58
Rating: 9
Tuonelan

Written by mdx54 on 05.05.2022 at 00:43

Observe how staff reviews miss their community score after a year has passed. Mark my words, today's score of 8.25 (rounded up to 8.3 unnecessarily) will trail off to 7.3, which it still does not deserve in my view, contrasted with other 7.3 works. It's not memorable unfortunately, nor groundmarking in any sense.


So what you are actually saying is that you view the album as being a disappointing (to you) 7.3 and you are purposely trying to deflate the community score by rating it more harshly in order to get it there, trying to make one opinion count for more than one vote.

And there are probably a few 10s in the batch that would have been 9s except that the raters saw your 4.5 (rounded down to a 4 in your community album rating) and a few other outliers and were trying to counterbalance that.

Throw out anything below a 6 and an equal number of 10s and we'd probably have something closer to an accurate consensus score that hovers between 8 and 9.

Which seems fair.
----
Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy
Loading...
05.05.2022 - 11:00
Rating: 4
mdx54

Written by Tuonelan on 05.05.2022 at 02:58

So what you are actually saying is that you view the album as being a disappointing (to you) 7.3 and you are purposely trying to deflate the community score by rating it more harshly in order to get it there, trying to make one opinion count for more than one vote.

This isn't what I've said. I review the album on its actual merit without a reference to the community score. Mine is only an observation on score work around here, how inadequately elevated post release scores can be. The power of my vote is not as strong as you think. It's the community itself that will see the score get fairer in time. Right now, it's driven by an overhyped audience.
If anything, the scores that are given aren't harsh enough to tell a groundbreaking piece from a big band from a mediocre piece by the same band due to the factors I gave you.
Written by Tuonelan on 05.05.2022 at 02:58

(...) an accurate consensus score that hovers between 8 and 9.

Which seems fair.

It's hardly that. Albums tend to get a fairer and harsher score down the line, not straight after a release. I understand there may be folks like you wishing otherwise but the fact remains.
And I do understand how labels may wish to influence the scores in some way we are not privy to, to make them high enough to garner more attention of new audiences arriving here. Their album panned in a review is not exactly what they might sit well with.
Loading...
05.05.2022 - 11:28
nikarg
Mod
I think the review is a bit harsh (and it was bound to be controversial since Amorphis is a band that is adored in this community) but I respect and agree with much of what you say. This album is definitely inferior to the two that came before it. I find your score to be low, but I don't really care about scores, I am more interested on what the reviewer says. I mostly agree with all your comments here on this thread too.

Congrats on your first review and welcome to Metal Storm!
Loading...
05.05.2022 - 12:01
Rating: 4
mdx54

Thank you, scores are subjective, I don't expect agreement. It's all about the constitutive elements that a reviewer finds. The fact a band is admired should not preclude harsh reviews, as long as there is merit for that.
Exactly my thoughts about the last two albums. I'm relistening to this album alongside their earlier releases and find one another odd thing about this album: the way many tracks finish without a meaningful coda (or with a very cliched one on the tonic). It's a style of concluding a song I'm not particularly into.

P.S. I have already posted here as tsd, but lost access, giving what may seem as harsh reviews to other bands I'm into.
Loading...
05.05.2022 - 15:59
Rating: 9
Rulatore

Written by nikarg on 05.05.2022 at 11:28

This album is definitely inferior to the two that came before it.

I think this is the real spice in this thread. No way "under the red cloud" is near this one. Queen of Time is debatable maybe, personally I find that one a bit more monotonous tbh.
Loading...
11.05.2022 - 15:21
Rating: 7
cubanmetalguy

Completely agree with the reviewer. I found this album boring and uninspired. I can never listen to it entirely in one session. Gave it a merciful 7 just because I love Amorphis.
Loading...
11.05.2022 - 16:03
Rating: 4
mdx54

Written by cubanmetalguy on 11.05.2022 at 15:21

Completely agree with the reviewer. I found this album boring and uninspired. I can never listen to it entirely in one session. Gave it a merciful 7 just because I love Amorphis.

That is precisely why scores for popular bands tend to have an unfairly disproportionate scores for any new release. Such scores don't make it a level playing field between unquestionably great or innovative albums and those that are mediocre like Halo.
Loading...
18.05.2022 - 10:51
Ball Fondlers

Great review, I mostly agree with it. It felt like QoT part 2 to me, an album I liked, but it was already long enough. Amorphis albums are usually a bit more varied between releases, but this one is just a continuation and I doubt I'll revisit it. In fact I don't really go back to QoT anymore either
Loading...

Hits total: 792 | This month: 491