The blinding lights of nostalgia are no match for The Halo Effect. Melodic death metal gets a much-needed shot in the arm from these veterans of the genre.

Release date: August 12, 2022 | Nuclear Blast Records | Facebook | Buy/Stream

If you know anything about The Halo Effect, you more than likely already know the members’ lineage and history. Given that this has been mostly been the type of coverage that the band has gotten in the run-up to this release, I’m going to make an effort to avoid calling back to past and current bands that these guys are in and simply focus on the album, songs, and total package of Days of the Lost, their brand new debut album.

When a set of musicians like this come together for what started as a project and grew into a full-fledged band, there are obviously some expectations that come along with that. For better or worse, having some preconceived notion about what this band should or would sound like makes it kind of tough to get a sense of the quality of their output due to the many forces at work before you even press play on the album. This is one of the main reasons that I want to take everything here at face value, without deferring to what has been done already by these musicians or even what my own expectations were. I will more than likely fail at this, but that’s the goal. So let’s get to it.

My first impression of this band came from the pre-release songs that they dropped in the months leading up to the eventual August release date. To me, it felt like there was a really long cycle from announcement to when the record actually came out, but given the transitions that the act went through and the state of the world in general, I suppose it all makes sense. “Shadowminds” was the first song that any of us heard in late 2021. I was so happy to see all of these guys playing together, but I was even more impressed that they were making the kind of music I didn’t know that I was really even missing these days. My taste has weaved through many styles over the years, and this kind of melodic death metal was a starting point for me when I began my descent into the mire of the many metal subgenres. It felt like home. The riffs were there, Mikael Stanne’s perfect vocal tone and those early ’00s moments were just all over this song. I was immediately curious, and I think it’s a perfect way to start off this album. The second (and titular) track is even better.

The reason that the “Days of the Lost” hits so well is that the opener is extremely welcoming and a bit of a thesis statement of the album as a whole, but when the second song starts, there’s just so much more focus and aggression that narrows and concentrates the aggression and heaviness. For me, this made the album immediately better. What’s more, they continue this push/pull dynamic throughout the album, which really helps with the pacing and feel of Days of the Lost and makes the total runtime of forty minutes feel like a breeze.

It’s safe to say that I really like what The Halo Effect are doing on their debut. Sharp and precise musical moments are all over the place, and each song brings something a little new to the listener’s ear. “In Broken Trust” sees Stanne bring his clean vocals to the chorus, and “Gateways” brings a level of malevolence not often heard in this genre – it’s accomplished not just through heavy riffs, but chord structures and that perfect combination of atmosphere and vocals.

For me, there was a lot to live up to on this record, not only because of where each of these band members had played before, but every song I heard before I got my hands on the entire record was stellar. Almost unbelievably so. It’s difficult to not endlessly reference the band’s previous work and endlessly contrast and/or compare The Halo Effect to where they were before. What I will say is that this album is on par with anything these players have done before, and that’s no small feat. Excellent songwriting, great riffs, solid production, and a pace that lets the album’s 40 minutes move through you with ease. Days of the Lost is one of the most comfortable and nostalgic albums of the year. Will this band continue speaking in this somewhat dead language of late ’90s melodeath or will they be pushing into new territory as their career unfolds? Regardless, I’m here for whichever path they choose.

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