Angels Lacking Halos – Inception 2009 – 73%
Over time, some bands can severely change before your eyes. Angels Lacking Halos is one of those bands for me. When they first formed in 2007 or so, I was easily the biggest skeptic you could find. A band who has influences that range from Bullet For My Valentine, to Avenged Sevenfold, to Trivium, to Cradle of Filth is usually not on a winning path. Early in their career, I shunned them for listening to such music, and I knew (absolutely KNEW) that they would only release commercial bullshit with as much substance as the aforementioned bands. I was dead set against them.
I went to an show in probably early 2008, and I was slightly surprised. Their music wasn’t as bad as I had thought. Sure, it was Metalcore, but it sounded a lot better than the other crap we have around here, as none of it is metal. They had this live aggression, which was easily unmatched (Quick side note; select local bands have bumped up the ‘heaviness’ since ALH started).
When I first heard a rough demo of the track Broken Fate in mid-2008, I was stunned. What the fuck was this? The reincarnation of Overkill’s End of the Line?! Not necessarily in the riffing/vocals or anything like that, but the song structures are so similar, it’s eerie. To top that, it ruled! It was this 6+ minute epic, that was filled with 3+ minutes of atmospheric lead tapping that recalls such bands as Iron Maiden and Overkill, in particular. There was absolutely no production on this song at all. They simply performed the song with a digital camera recording the audio. That also added to the appeal I found in it, as it literally sounded like a demo from the 80s!
In late 2008, the band retreated to Iowa to have that song, and 2 newer songs recorded professionally. This is the resulting EP. The first thing you’ll notice about Broken Fate, when compared to the original demo, is the gigantic leap in quality of production. The production is about as clean as you would expect from a new Metalcore release. As a result, a lot of the balls are lost on this version of the song. Not only that, they cut out a minute of the tapping from the end, which I guess was supposed to make it more appropriate for radio play. I personally don’t believe in sacrificing artistic output for such a reason as that. Either way, the song is shorter, and not as good. Other than that, the song isn’t really changed at all from the demo. The main killer is the production. At about 2:05 they break into this little puny whiny guitar lead part, which could have been great had they had the proper guitar tone. Instead, it sounds weak and forced. The dual melodic riffage that follows more than makes up for that little sputter, however.
Destiny Denied is easily the most -core sounding song here, somewhat akin to Kreator’s To the Afterborn. It shares a very similar type of double bass in the chorus, and the backing vocals are somewhat, although not completely, similar there as well. In the middle a twin lead break comes in sounding somewhat like the Thin Lizzy influenced side of Metallica, which simply kicks your ass from Nebraska, to the Bay Area, to Dublin once again. Mine For Yours keeps the core sound alive, but enters slightly more Melo-Death territory. This song has easily the heaviest riff set on the whole album, sounding like At the Gates in flashes.
Mistakes in the songs are seldom heard, as the band plays fairly tight. You can hear the bass, but it’s not doing anything interesting. Like a lot of modern metal bands, the bass is simply there to compliment the drums and guitars, which is what it does here. As far as the drumming goes, expect double bass, and expect it frequently. If I had to pick one element of the music that sounds the best overall, it’s the drums. They simply fit into the mix right where they should. The guitar tone also fits the music, but at times can lead to what I’d like to call “riff hot boxing.” At times, the tone can simply get a little smokey. With the exception of the great melodic vocals in Destiny Denied, all vocals you hear are standard, yet aggressive Metalcore growls. The best way I could describe them would be to slap you down onto crane, and lower you inch by inch onto a 40 foot wide belt sander. They have a very sharp edge to them, and that works in the bands favor.
The weakest link is the lyrics. I really cannot see all that deeply into them, as they’re about as straight forward as it gets. They rhyme to the music and never sound incredibly retarded. The riffage throughout the EP is one of the tougher things to judge. At times, it can be incredibly thrashy and reveal a more metal side of the band. During some solos, the riffs are forced to the background and frankly, that is when they simply turn into background riffs. Fortunately, the ratio of interesting/uninteresting riffs is in the band’s favor. The worst part of the riffs is the dreaded pinch harmonic. They use them like they’re going out of style, and it puts a slight stain on a lot of the riffs they’re involved in.
And finally, what is the biggest gripe I have with this? What is the one thing there is that will warrant a score lower than what I’ve described above? They’re holding back! I’ve had the pleasure of playing guitar with both Adam and Nathan, and they aren’t showing their full potential on this album. At times, it just sounds too pedestrian for what they’re going for. The riffs are halfway original though, and don’t do a lot of ripping off from other bands. There aren’t any parts which make me stand up and scream over how it has already been done before, as majority of the time, these guys are doing something different.
Positive: It’s halfway thrashy, and the songwriting is as coherent as it should be.
Negative: It’s Metalcore, and the attractive production steals its balls. It also bothers me that they really don’t perform up to the level I know they can. Oh…and the pinch harmonics.
I recommend this to anyone with half a stomach for Metalcore, as this is better than a lot of others out there. It has a fairly fresh sound to it as well.
This entry was posted on April 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm and is filed under Heavy Metal Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.