This Halo Tora article was written by Gavin Wells, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo by Kevin Wylie
Halo Tora have come a long way in just a few short years. Founded in 2011, the Glasgow Alternative/Post-Rock band have been working hard at what they do best: Blowing people’s minds with their fantastically written music. And now, the band have finally released their debut album, which has been highly anticipated by fans and industry critics alike. ‘Omni/One’s’ release also comes ahead of their September UK tour, which features a sold-out show in their home town to top things off.
‘Omni/One’ starts off with a very ambient instrumental track, setting the tone for what the album has in store before kicking into ‘Permanent Revolution’. This song is a great choice to start off the album, as it demonstrates Halo Tora’s masterful talent of progression. Starting off with just a simple melody on keyboard, the song builds upward until there’s an explosion of interweaving melodies, chords and harmonies, tied together with a solid and complex drum line. All throughout, that simple keyboard melody continues to loop until the very end of the song.
In quite the contrast, the following track, ‘Ruins’ is considerably heavier than ‘Permanent Revolution’. There is a clear Metal influence throughout this song, most noticeably in the rhythm Guitar. Guitarist & lead vocalist, Chris Alexander belts out some powerful vocals throughout the track, and is joined by fellow guitarist/vocalist, Ian McCall in the chorus for some fantastic vocal harmonies. The song takes things down a bit after the second chorus as it enters a calm bridge section, with some slow, ambient guitar and keyboard melodies. During this section, Halo Tora teases the listener with a few brief build-up sections that fade away as quickly as they appeared. As the bridge comes to an end, drummer Chris McKeown is let loose for an almost 15 second long blistering Drum solo before the outro kicks in.
Halo Tora amazingly manage to offer a huge variety throughout ‘Omni/One’, with each track trying something different from the last, while still somehow maintaining a somewhat consistent sound throughout. Just when you think you know what to expect from the band, they throw something completely unexpected into the mix.
The opening melody for the fourth track, “The Bones That Rock The Cradle” like many other songs on the album, feels very atmospheric, with melodies across various instruments lending to a mesmerising dynamic throughout.
In another contrast to everything up until this point, “Tonight” sounds is comparatively soft, with Keyboardist, Ryan Connery taking centre stage. The first half of this song sounds almost like lounge music, whereas around the halfway mark, the song suddenly bursts distorted Guitars and aggressive drums. Once again, the vocal harmonies throughout this song are outstanding.
A stand out track among all of the other great songs on the album is “Under The Surface”. The song has a great balance between soft, atmospheric melodies in the verse and its sudden bursts of energy in the chorus. Toying with expectations slightly once again, part way through the seconds verse, there is a sudden pause that is guaranteed to catch everyone off guard on their first listen. It is this kind of playfulness in its song-writing that really sets Halo Tora apart from other bands in their genre.
Halo Tora make great use of repetition in their lyrics, causing many of them to stick in your head long after you’ve finished listening. Some examples of these include “I will find you” from ‘Hangman’ and “I will be the one you run from”, which is from ‘The Executioner’.
‘The Executioner’ really catches out listeners, as it starts off as a pleasant acoustic track, before Chris Alexander counts the rest of the band in. Rather than the heavy guitars that we’ve come to expect at this point, instead we are treated to a light beat with a melody which sounds almost folk-influenced.
The album ends with the title track, ‘Omni/One’. Fittingly, the song sounds like one big outro to the entire album. Boasting an ambient, minimalist melody and great vocal harmonies that repeat throughout. From the halfway point onwards, the song builds up in a huge crescendo with a thumping bass drum and suspended crash cymbals before fading out the end of the album.
‘Omni/One’ is a beautifully written album throughout, with outstanding musicality that is unmatched by other bands of the same level. Throughout each song, there are subtle melodies and harmonies hidden in the back of the mix, which can go unnoticed at times if you aren’t paying attention. ‘Halo Tora’ have made a huge impact with their debut album, proving that they capable of standing among some of the industry greats. This band is going places, and this is where it begins.