Seahaven
Halo of Hurt


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
November 24th, 2020 | 106 replies


Release Date: 11/20/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Seahaven evolve and mature simultaneously, resulting in an unexpected masterpiece.

The road leading up to Halo of Hurt went something like this: Seahaven, a pop-punk/emo/indie-rock outfit renowned for trying new things (see: 2014’s Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only), went quiet for over half of a decade. Live shows were sparse while their tweets were both rare and cryptic. Somewhere along the way, they scrapped an entire album’s worth of demos. Finally, after six years and without much fanfare, they’ve come out of nowhere to drop a dark and brooding magnum opus which marks a huge evolution from their previous works. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. While Halo of Hurt might not go toe-to-toe with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me or Science Fiction on an objective platform, it is Seahaven’s very own version of that critical maturation: a crowning achievement and their most haunting, complex composition yet.

Halo of Hurt sets an ominous tone with its epic, slow-burning opener ‘Void’ – which commences with the distant buzz of bass/strings before kicking the door down with a massive guitar riff. It’s immediately clear that Seahaven have torched any semblance of formulaic songwriting on this one: rather than obeying a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure, ‘Void’ alternates between percussive breakdowns and gorgeous piano, erupting violently and in multiple directions while refusing to conform to a refrain. The subject matter is decidedly morose, with Soto noting that all of our paths eventually converge upon death: “So take the dose that will help the most / Till you feel the rope tighten on your throat / You see we’re all just sailing home at our own pace.” Most of Halo of Hurt follows along this same pathway, featuring nine off-kilter tracks sprawled across forty thrilling and intensely moody minutes.

‘Moon’ and ‘Dandelion’ continue to experiment with the darker tones established at the record’s onset; the former a grungy, guitar-driven piece that feels inspired by Daisy (or perhaps even The Jesus Lizard’s Goat), and the latter a lush – albeit gloomy and tense – midtempo rocker. Halo of Hurt largely thrives on its wiry progression and impulsive whims, always leaving you guessing as to where a song will arrive at next. Drums swell up seemingly out of thin air and then vanish just as quickly, as if they fell straight off a cliff ledge. Gentle guitar tones change subtly and gradually until you find yourself unwittingly listening to something harsh. Verses often meander, in zero rush, to reach a chorus – and that’s if they arrive at one at all. Seahaven find themselves experimenting heavily with dynamics: instruments and accents come and go like the tide. It’s what makes Halo of Hurt so fluid yet simultaneously unpredictable. One of the best examples is ‘I Don’t Belong Here’, where all of the music actually cuts out around the 1:20 mark and the song ratchets up its percussive tempo until the whole thing becomes a whole new level of in-your-face abrasive. As with every song on Halo of Hurt, ‘I Don’t Belong Here’ arrives at a unique flourish – in this case when it once again shifts directions towards emphatically plucked electric guitars and Soto laments: “Sleeping in a coffin, trying to get to heaven / Drown in holy water, again and again.”

The band indulges in conventional structuring for the first time with ‘Lose’ – a gorgeous, shimmering ballad betrayed by its forsaken underlying lyrics: “There a benevolent limb / Left hanging out in the cold without a hand there to hold / And it’s the circle we're in, can’t find a way to admit when we're wrong.” The calm beauty of the song makes it feel like it could have been a Reverie Lagoon standout, but it easily qualifies as Halo of Hurt’s most aesthetically pleasing moment; it glides in gracefully and then floats off into the ether like some sort of fleeting dream. ‘Lose’ sets up one of the record’s most aggressive tracks in ‘Harbor’ – which crashes through the gates with heavy electric guitar riffs before building up to the album’s most anthemic chorus. Halo of Hurt’s widespread deemphasis of catchy/melodic choruses makes it feel even more impactful and earned, elevating ‘Harbor’ as one of the album’s most striking moments.

The album’s closing trio of songs suffer no shortage of creative or kinetic energy, either. The first two – ‘Living Hell’ and ‘Bait’ – perfect Seahaven’s soft-to-loud formula, with the former trickling in via eerie piano notes and then exploding into a series of menacing riffs, and the latter reaching one last glorious crescendo on the heels of a beautiful ambient section. ‘Eraser’ is Halo of Hurt’s most palpably mournful song, echoing heartbroken elegies like “I fantasized you were a children’s toy / That I shook real hard until you were no more” above aimlessly picked guitars – which simply make the lines feel even more lost and melancholic. It’s the ideal way to end Halo of Hurt: an emotionally shattered moment that feels like a natural conclusion to all of the chaos and darkness that preceded it.

With Halo of Hurt, Seahaven sound like a new band. It appears that time off – and even the disappointment of scrapping an entire album – was the best thing that could have happened to them. Not only did it lead to some of their darkest and most serious subject matter to date, but it also forced them to completely reinvent their approach. Halo of Hurt is tense and sprawling; destructive and violent in nature. It’s not their most immediate work, but it is elaborately composed, densely layered, and highly unpredictable. Seahaven created their very own The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me with this release – call it their magnum opus, call it their classic – but whatever Halo of Hurt is, it’s frighteningly good.



s
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user ratings (116)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
November 24th 2020


36495 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Just in time to shake up your 2020 "Best Of" lists. This will become a 5 in time, no doubt.



Also many thanks to Feather for reminding me that this came out.

Digging: Slaughter Beach, Dog - At The Moonbase

Slex
November 24th 2020


10923 Comments


The music here is stunning and bracingly dynamic but idk the singer isn't quite my cup of tea overall

Still definitely an unexpected winner tho

Digging: Seiko Oomori - Kintsugi

tyman128
November 24th 2020


2268 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love the review! This sounds like it's right up my alley... probably gonna ruin my rankings for the year but I'll deal with that later

ChoccyPhilly
November 24th 2020


13077 Comments


damn i was hoping this would be a sick spacey black metal album

Digging: Ancient Mastery - Chapter One...

Feather
November 24th 2020


6406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@Sowing wow you really pumped this one out! I'll read the review in a bit, but this is definitely a top album of the year for me.



Thank you for reviewing this to spread the word!

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 24th 2020


36495 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for reminding me about it. I've always liked Seahaven but there wasn't much fanfare surrounding this release so I almost missed it.



"I Don't Belong Here" has got to be one of the best songs I've heard all year long.

Feather
November 24th 2020


6406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Void and Lose are the highlights for me so far, but I am in love with the whole album

Project
November 24th 2020


4566 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am so, so excited for this on recs alone. Spun it for a few seconds before this review and I can tell this is directly in my wheelhouse. Great writeup Sowing

Gyromania
November 24th 2020


31336 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

only heard their debut and thought it was very very average

Digging: Biosphere - Dropsonde [Reissue]

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 24th 2020


36495 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

If you dislike the vocalist then this won't change your mind, but otherwise I'd say it's leagues ahead of their previous work.

The embedded song is a decent barometer of what to expect going in.

Nbehre11
November 25th 2020


224 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ahh yes, I was waiting for this review from you Sowing! Great album, and great review. Definitely see the score rising as it continues to sink in for me.

Digging: Marietta - As It Were

Scoot
November 25th 2020


20364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yup this is legit

Feather
November 25th 2020


6406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

“While Halo of Hurt might not go toe-to-toe with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me or Science Fiction”



I’m sure this isn’t coming from someone with bias right? :-)

Great review as always Sowing, I knew this was deserving of a glowing review from you

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 25th 2020


36495 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'd still love to read your take. And yeah, no bias, just a man who can find Brand New comparisons in literally anything lol. In all seriousness though it's not objectively on the same level as TDAG or SF. It's definitely in that next tier though - right there with The Republic of Wolves for me.

heck
November 25th 2020


5314 Comments


this looks like peak sowingcore

Digging: Nothing - The Great Dismal

Cormano
November 25th 2020


2487 Comments


tumblr must be rejoicing

Feather
November 25th 2020


6406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@sowing you mentioned one of my favorite aspects of the albums, the dynamics of their instrumentation fading in and out like a tide, from background to foreground effortlessly.

StickFeit
November 25th 2020


1323 Comments


Well this came out of nowhere, sounds promising.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2020


31378 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Y'all digging this, check the new Downy. Shit is like the ominous side of this cut up and drawn out to its fullest ft. a boatload of glitch and chills

Digging: Fushitsusha - Live I

Slex
November 25th 2020


10923 Comments


Well damn that sounds awesome



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