Billed as "sitting somewhere between prog-rock, alt-rock and post-rock" in press blurb, as much as I despise genre labelling (yet simultaneously acknowledge the casual necessity for), that's a strangely apposite branding of Halo Tora's music. Loaded with sonics and soundscapes reminiscent of Anathema, Mogwai and Karnivool, this Scottish quintet somehow transcend any of said reference points, with a series of songs that provide emotionally stirring stimuli through both instrumentations and vocals. The band's two guitarists, Chris Alexander and Ian McCall, share lead vocal duties, and both have a smooth-toned delivery over songs' mellower passages that emphasises the richly layered atmospheres already created by the music itself. Over the heavied-up, rock/metal parts that sporadically punctuate some of the compositions, their voices sound ever-so-slightly stretched on occasion when pitted against the more powerful parts; however, that's just a minor criticism, as they still conjure enough power to carry the tracks, particularly when harmonising with each other. Besides, it's the smoother, mellower side of their singing that's mainly exercised in the songs, and this works a treat.
As I already mentioned, 'Omni/One' is an album that's rich with atmosphere, engendered through both composition and arrangement. And both are equally magnificent. There's some classy, refined songwriting on show here, although the arrangements of the instrumentations that bring each composition to life are where the album genuinely shines. Instruments have been combined intelligently and instinctively with, frequently, sublime results. It's all about restraint and letting rip at all the right moments, and it's through songs' restrained moments that the layers of music hit sublimity on so many occasions. Subtle and not so subtle guitar, keyboards, bass and drums attain a constant euphonic whole, whereby you'll feel like you're never listening to any individual instrument, but the music's affects in its entirety. These guys gel together to perfection and how much thought has gone into the instrumentations is irrelevant as, most importantly, they never sound overthought; songs have a very natural sounding core.
While the album generally has a very nice sounding production, being a tad pedantic, I have to say that the mix verges towards being a little bass-heavy at times. It's a resonance that seems to work over many passages of music, although is perhaps bass-heavy over a few others. That's just a personal preference, I'm sure, as 'Omni/One' is, otherwise, mixed to perfection with each instrument blended to very marvellous effect. And, as a whole, the album is a mightily impressive debut from this talented bunch of newcomers. This lot have the potential to be huge.
East End Records
Review by Mark Holmes
4th Sept 2015
2) Permanent Revolution
4) The Bones that Rock the Cradle
5) Tonight; 6) Hangman
7) Under the Surface
9) Age of Terror
10) The Executioner
11) Red X is Mandatory
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"There's some classy, refined songwriting on show here, although the arrangements of the instrumentations that bring each composition to life are where the album genuinely shines."