October 10, 2022 The Halo Effect – Days of the Lost (Album Review)
If one positive could be gleaned from the disaster that was 2020, a period when the ‘now’ was so unpleasant and the future so uncertain, it was the inevitable outcome of pausing and looking backwards. Not to regress, but to reach back to all the things which imparted character, conviction, and strength. For the musicians who comprise The Halo Effect, this meant returning to the roots of their uniquely Swedish sound, the “Gothenburg Sound” of Melodic Death Metal developed and popularized in the late 1980s / early 1990s.
The result is Days of the Lost, an album released on August 12, 2022 via Nuclear Blast Records and forged from the bonds of the past but made for the present day. One glance at the members of The Halo Effect, without a single note of music to provide context, should prepare the listener for what is in store. A rhythm section of Peter Iwers on bass guitar and Daniel Svensson on drums, complimented by Nicolas Engelin and Jesper Stromblad on guitar, is rounded out by Michael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) on vocals.
Astute fans will immediately see the heavy ex-In Flames pedigree on display, and they will hear that lineage immediately upon pressing play. “Shadowminds” harks back to the late 1990’s, with superb guitar interplay carrying melody forward through the growls of Stanne. Also, those looking for a more experimental take on this track, check out the recently released Ihsahn remixed edition.
Fans of powerful, even epic interwoven guitars driving airtight rhythms will eat up “Feel What I Believe,” a song that can evoke the feel of Iron Maiden with the sweat and clamor of a circle pit. Stanne’s vocals sound hungry, the quintet coming off like they have something to prove – and not like the elder statesman of a genre they helped create.
“The Needless End” is another one that provides earworm lead melodies reminiscent of latter-day Amorphis, yet still storms forth with speed in the verses. When the Swedish lads get more contemplative, such as on the emotional “In Broken Trust,” the intensity does not wane. Clean vocals appear confidently in the mix, with even more guitar leads to die for courtesy of Engelin and Stromblad. Power balladry done well, and not at the expense of heaviness.
It is difficult to find fault with Days of the Lost. The production is crisp, and while this might not appeal to the hardcore old base that yearns for more filthy sounds, it is most certainly the strongest material to come out from the Swedish ‘Melodeath’ scene in quite some time. This is a Heavy Metal album made for Heavy Metal fans. It calls back to the glorious pasts of the musicians involved in its creation, to a time before trends like Nu Metal steered the genre into unknown places. But make no mistake, Days of the Lost is not a rehash. It is a fresh take, and it is a triumph. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Days of the Lost 4.5 out of 5 stars.