Halos - Living Like Kings In Confined Spaces
Record Label: Mandrake Records
Release Date: July 26, 2011
It's difficult to describe the flood of emotions that course through your body when life altering decisions and grand hopes see their overwhelming fulfillment. Your heart and mind feel light, as if suspended, levitated by the euphoria that pulses in your veins. And what if the sacrifice to experience such a feeling presented a daunting risk? The moment becomes so much sweeter, the finest taste you could imagine. This is the story of the Orange County band, Halos. Originally the aspirations of vocalist Dan Lynman, Halos became the product of big risks but even bigger dreams. Expelled from a religiously devout home, Lynman selected his passion for music when faced with an ultimatum. After months of surviving off meager work and living out of a van, Lynman ventured to California in the hopes of piecing together his artistic vision. Like minded men with similar scars in pursuit of their ambitions soon joined Lynman, and after 4 years of hard work and extreme dedication, the quintet presented their debut full length to the world.
When “Hekla” begins to play, there is an immediate sense of beautiful space. The drums provide slow heart beat rhythms that aurally contribute to a rise in stirring sensation with Lynman’s invitation to join him in the atmosphere, consistent with the melodic progression as it provides further imagery. His vocals provide a vigorous contribution to the music, with accents and styling similar to those of Casey Crescenzo (The Dear Hunter). Each layer of instruments introduces more depth to the song as it climaxes to a guitar driven chorus and reverts to the calmer, quieter segment that works like a deep breath in context of the music. This breezy, “cool autumn air” feeling, as I like to describe it, is appreciable in their most known song “Amalgam.” A galloping guitar rhythm complements a full bass tone that helps sustain both the rich piano accents and Lynman’s passionate lyrics, which beg to be sung in unison. A massive and aggressive chorus emphasizes the song. Such elements make this track a melting pot of what to expect overall from the album. “Never Never Land,” too, expresses this mellowed and soothing quality, but the skill of pianist Josh Huber is the star player on this track, sweeping his fingers gracefully over every note that perfectly contributes to the tune. Lynman feeds off of the melody and voices his inner dilemma and loving frustration. All of these tracks are especially beautiful and suit varying moods, making these songs noteworthy and accessible.
But Halos shows strong versatility throughout the course of Living Like Kings. ”Helium” is a good example of this musical diversity as the song remains upbeat, sustained by demanding percussion and complimented with bright keys. The title track, “Living Like Kings,” begins with a warm bass line that carries through the song and proves to be the factor that moves the other instruments to the grand chorus. But the track that demonstrates this most is the ambient, lyrically frank “Crutches.” Emotionality takes the reigns as the reverb and tremolo guitar and keys juxtapose Lynman’s more aggressive vocals, which sweep into ardent screams. The reprieve collectively sounds similar to the Blue Sky Noise era of Circa Survive, with its alternating guitar riffs that move in motion with 'one, one-two step' kick patterns. The track ends as a definite highlight of the album. This overall sound transfers onto the later tracks “Breaking Windows” and “Stop Believing In Me,” spreading out a beautiful tone so as not to become repetitive and allow each song’s individuality to be made manifest.
The final tracks of the album place a strong emphasis on vocals, especially the last song, “Land Mines.” Lynman explores an unyielding range as acoustic guitar transforms and builds up with layers distant orchestral instrumentation and spacious piano that channels Lynman’s emotions. Ultimately, the album closes with a unified sweep of vocals, guitar, and piano that prove to be the polar opposite of its start. After about 50 minutes, Living Like Kings comes to a glorious conclusion.
We take risks every day. Whether they are substantial or not, is up to us and our decisions. These five gentlemen took their chances. They decided to take the risks. And what do they have to show for it? A sonic work of art. Living Like Kings In Confined Spaces is an album that contemporary artists take 3 or more albums to craft. It is again noteworthy that this is Halos’ debut. Though Living Like Kings is a collection of new and old songs, the tracks seam together flawlessly and as whole break free from many confinements that modern rock, and music in general, is subject to. The album is special, not only as a solid compilation of bright, meaningful tracks but as a milestone of accomplishment to a group of friends who have devoted themselves and given up everything for the sake of following their deepest wishes. Expect big things to come from Halos. Their journey has just begun.
this is a great album....I have been following this band since early EP's . Definitly check these guys out, their album has been in my rotation since I got it this summer. They do have a manchester feel...a little more ambient feel.
Their vocalist reminds me of Mr. Lacey which is certainly not a bad thing in my book. Surprised no one else has picked up on that or it wasn't mentionned in the review. Enjoy this album and looking forward to see what the future holds for these guys.