Saturday, November 13, 2010

Halo (the band, not the game)

Here is a brief write-up that I just completed for Sam at With Intent Records, for his upcoming LP release by Halo. I was really honored that he asked me to contribute something, as I have been enjoying this band (not to mention the related A Beautiful Machine) for a solid ten years now...

Halo “Degree Zero Point of Implosion”

It is kind of hard to believe that Halo’s crushing “Degree Zero Point of Implosion” is already ten years old. But then again, the whole era is long a thing of the past, and that is how I first became familiar with Halo, along with the band’s astonishing shoegazer sister/alter-ego, A Beautiful Machine – along with the various other branches that made up the Australian-based Embryo Recordings family tree of artists. Halo entered the heavy music landscape at a time when Godflesh had long since ceased being sonic bulldozers [but early Godflesh, and especially Greymachine, fans should unquestionably take note of this album], Swans had disbanded three years previously [fans of the recent, powerful Swans live shows should also pay attention, not to mention those who enjoy a little “Filth” or “Cop”], Sword Heaven were still five years away from reaching my ears [but if you like their “Piles,” “Entrance,” or “Gone,” then you owe it to yourself to pay heed], and The Human Quena Orchestra would not release their first album for another seven years [if you feed on THQO’s low-end muscle, then look no further].Quite simply, Halo ingested, digested, and spit back up elements of early industrial, crusty punk [think of Amebix or Winter pacing], doom, sludge-metal, and maybe even some power-electronics attitude, all of which congealed in a dark, pummeling mass of pure bile and power. Back then, the message seemed to start to stick.In 2001, following a handful of Embryo/ releases, Relapse embarked upon an all-too-brief series of releases/re-releases, but unfortunately, so-called industrial-metal has never been a strong suit of that estimable label. Dead World never really took off for them, either, and what great label mates Halo and Dead World would be, in a perfect world. Was Halo simply late-to-the-game or were they ahead-of-their-time? “Degree Zero Point of Implosion” is the heaviest type of dirge that you can imagine, direct from the factory floor. No, actually, it sounds more like it came from some abandoned factory’s forgotten sub-basement, clawing its way up and out into the smog-choked darkness. Cheers to With Intent Records for resurrecting this important and overlooked sonic document from the uncertain turn of the millennium. Here’s to hoping that the album reaches new ears and that Halo’s influence and significance is recognized. -- Mark Solotroff [Anatomy of Habit, BLOODYMINDED]