Today we’re reviewing the debut album of the “young”, but very promising Swedish band The Halo Effect. Actually, if you don’t know about it yet, but most likely you don’t know it anymore, this band was founded in 2021 by the former members of the melodic death metal band In Flames. The band consists of guitarists Jesper Strömblad and Niclas Engelin, bassist Peter Iwers, drummer Daniel Svensson and current Dark Tranquillity vocalist Mikael Stanne. The main idea of the new band was to return to the origins of the true “Gothenburg sound” of the early 90’s, which laid the foundation of the melodic death metal style. Guitarist Jesper Strömblad, as you know, was one of the founders of In Flames, and vocalist Mikael Stanne was the founder of Dark Tranquility. Both bands were pioneers of melodic death metal.
So the album was released on August 12 on the Nuclear Blast label and includes 10 tracks averaging quite small at around 4 minutes. The material was recorded with producers Oscar Nilsson and Jens Bogren. There are several guest musicians on the record, including Matt Heafy from the band Trivium.
Let’s move on to the contents of the album, but not in the order presented on the album, but as the first singles were released, especially as there were 4 of them and one on the day of the album itself.
The band released the debut single Shadowminds, which immediately became a hit, back in late 2021, on the album it is the opener. The musicians commented on the song itself as follows:
We are incredibly excited to unveil this new band with one of the first songs that we wrote together. We felt strongly that this was the right direction for the band. Finding identity, finding a drive and passion is what the song is about and also what this band is about. What drove us to do this in the first place, what obstacles have we overcome in order to fully commit to this lifestyle? It’s about how easy it is to get lost if you lose focus and passion for what you do.
With the video we wanted to convey the emptiness of the city in the early stages of the pandemic and what we saw outside of the studio as we were writing but we also love the cool dystopic imagery so we made the city look even more barren and destroyed.
The song itself is somewhat similar to the late Dark Tranquillity, and Mikael Stanne’s stunning vocal performance only enhances this effect. A strong and very melodic composition in the moderne melo-death style.
At the beginning of 2022 the second single Feel What I Believe was released. The band itself commented this composition this way:
The song is basically about how it felt growing up and discovering extreme metal in our late teens. Delving into something that was both frightening and alluring at the same time. And having that as the sole focus as you started playing in a band and in essence decided who you wanted to be. That confidence and laser focus is what still fascinates me I love that this somehow endured over the years.
This is basically us at 19 screaming ‘How don’t you understand this?’ And even if people around us didn’t get it at the time at least they could see our passion for it and that’s what this song is about.
The video is also reminiscent of the videos we saw growing up. A bunch of long haired people in an abandoned warehouse playing loud music while trying to look cool basically. What we did here though is bring it to another level thanks to Theo Gabay and his amazing team. I love that it captures the vibe of us playing and really enjoying what we do. Also it looks spectacular.
In this composition the emphasis was made on the classic sound of In Flames. It is quite an intense and heavy song, which has more death metal than melody. Theme with a fast energetic tempo and bright melodies.
In the spring the third single, which is also the title track of the album Days Of The Lost, was released. The band’s frontman Mikael Stanne talked about this song:
Days Of The Lost is about finding your place in life, about making that outcast experience into something that propels you forward. We all met in our mid teens and we were all trying to find direction, motivation and meaning. Thankfully we found it in creativity and music and we shared this passion and made something from it that remains an essential part of who we are as individuals and as parts of a whole. So this is us reflecting on our past, while watching a new generation slowly but surely find their path. It’s about standing up, being your true self and about not letting anything stand in your way. Our choices and our paths have led to all kinds of things but we wouldn’t change a thing.
All in all it’s a great song, one of the best on the album, in the spirit of the old In Flames, allowing you to remember your youth. It is quite a hit song with great melodies and bright chorus, with a good balance of melodic and heavy elements.
The Needless End‘s fourth single was released in early summer. Here’s what the band had to say about the song:
The Needless End deals with the crippling inability to deal with abstract problems. Issues that just seem too huge or incomprehensible falls by the wayside in order to deal with more immediate but less important issues. We end up somewhere not because we want to but because we were unable to understand what we needed to do. There is an intensity to this song and a uplifting melody that I think suits this idea. Among all the anger and resentment it’s also hopeful and has an infectious groove and drive.
The song has a more progressive sound with bright harmonic guitars and a more complex compositional structure. A kind of Iron Maiden in a more extreme style.
On the day of the album’s release (August 12), the band released a new video for the song In Broken Trust. Commented by Mikael Stanne:
The song is about betrayal. Either to oneself or onto others. The clinical and unaffected truth might be hard to achieve but the further we stray from it the harder everything gets. This turned out to be a huge song and landing on this structure and feel took a few tries but I love how it came out and having this come out as the album drops feels incredible.
And we got another quite progressive composition, with a modern sound and quite original for a band. The song has a certain mystical atmosphere and reminds me of a modern Amorphis, with a very melodic chorus using clean vocals.
That’s it, the singles are over, there are five more tracks left. Conditional starts with a very calm intro, but then it turns into a real death metal track, one of the most powerful on the album.
Gateways is another rather unexpected track, bringing variety to the record. It is a tense and melancholic song. In this composition the bass guitar is very noticeable, which plays not the last role. In general, the song is well detailed and every detail is worked out.
A Truth Worth Lying For is another very melodic song with the use of clean vocals in the chorus. All in all, energetic, very melodic plus sweetly vocalized chorus.
Next is a very interesting track Last Of Our Kind, with violins, cellos and a guest appearance by Matt Heafy from the band Trivium. One of the most interesting, vivid and intense songs on the album with an orchestral intro, beautiful melody and intertwining voices, especially at the end of the track.
And then there’s the closing track The Most Alone. It perfectly describes the album as a whole and sums it up by combining a kind of melancholic atmosphere with quite aggressive parts and a bright melody itself, which all together makes for a great song. It’s a spectacular and strong ending to the record.
As a conclusion. The Halo Effect is a team of five friends, like-minded people and just good musicians who decided to get together, play their favorite music from the early and mid-90s, have a good time, and earn some money. It’s nice that the musicians didn’t call the band In Flames Inc. like their English colleagues, but came up with a new and original name for the band. Taking into account what In Flames themselves have been doing for many years now, this record will be a joy for many melodic death metal fans.
Nothing particularly innovative and original is on this album, of course, except for a few moments, moreover, sometimes the music even resembles modern Dark Tranquillity. At the same time we can’t say that this album is a copy of the old In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. The musicians obviously follow the modern tendencies in heavy music, plus the modern quality of recording and sound. Not only that, there are some quite unexpected and interesting decisions which give the album some originality and variety. Anyway, the album is interesting and must be listened to. Well, we’ll wait impatiently for the new works.
And by the way, right after its release, the album hit the charts all over Europe and USA: number 1 in native Sweden and number 6 in Germany, Finland and Austria.