Hard and heavy rock can be intelligent and thought provoking as well as bloody well loud and powerful. That’s the kind of hard rock I like, less of the featherweight music that certain (well known) bands produce that lingers briefly before floating away on a light breeze of inconsequence.
There are a lot of bands out there who profess to be hard rock bands but with additional atmosphere, depth etc. so it is always nice to fall on one unexpected and discover something worth listening to.
First on The Prog stage on Saturday afternoon at Resonance were a group of young Scottish guys who, despite their impenetrable accents, impressed me with their enthusiasm when I chatted to them before they had to sound check. Calling back later to hear them play, I was even more impressed by their professionalism and the incredible sound they produced.
Hailing from Glasgow (hence the accents) Halo Tora are creating a rapidly increasing fan base, though a vigorous regime of gigging, that has seen them playing gigs from Inverness to Glasgow in a few short months, and a constant stream of fan pleasing media, upon their social networking pages.
The band consists of Chris Alexander (Guitars/Vocals), Ian McCall (Guitars/Vocal), Kené Wraight (Bass), Chris McKeown (Drums) and Ryan Connery (Keyboards).
Formed late 2011, and influenced by such acts as; Mogwai, Oceansize, Karnivool, and Hammock, they took 2012 to carefully create and establish a sound that can be heard throughout 2013’s debut EP; ‘When the Bones Shake’.
I like EP’s because they give you a snippet about what the band are like, I dislike EP’s when the band’s music is so good you really could do with a full album release! Would this one leave me lamenting the fact it is only three tracks long? Let’s have a listen and find out.
The first track Under the Surface begins in a pensive fashion with earnest vocals and a low down riff before the guitars crash the party and a huge wall of sound envelops you for a moment. Calm is restored by a delightful piano note and Chris’ heart warming vocal delivery but it isn’t long before that depth returns with monstrous riffs and a hugely competent rhythm section. Despite their tender years, the band show a real maturity in their songwriting and a proficiency in their playing, like a metaphorical musical thousand yard stare. Ian’s backing vocals have a real feel to them and add sheen to the song but the mountain sized riffs are the real source of the music’s heady atmosphere.
You are taken, helplessly, on a marvellous musical journey and there is no let up as the deliberate, methodical introduction to The Bones That Rock the Cradle holds you in sway before it builds up the tension. The vocals are low and deliberate on this song leaving you feeling on edge such is the suspense engendered. The giant sized riffs that are hewn out of rock hit you in a solid wave as the edginess is ramped up before an outpouring of emotion is released on the powerful chorus. This song is full of gravitas and apprehension and the superb guitar work just adds a layer of dignity to a sombre song.
All too soon we reach the final track on the EP. Sorrowful and mellow as it begins, Needles has an ever so slight grunge feel to it, like a polished Soundgarden. Wistful and darkly atmospheric it grabs at your heartstrings, constricting your throat such is its sorrowful feel. The song bleeds empathy in droves yet never loses that feeling of remorse. The thunderous riff is all pervading when it is let loose and just adds to the haunting aura that radiates from this bleakly beautiful track. As it comes to a close I am left contemplating the silence that has arisen to take its place.
It sometimes amazes me when I see the amount of skill and professionalism these young bands have. When you add that to a deep understanding of music and exceptional songwriting skills you know you have stumbled upon a band that has the potential to be big, how big is down to the ambition that the guys in Halo Tora have and, after talking to them, I’d say it’s rather lofty! You need to keep your eye on this talented band, that’s for sure.