Review Summary: Modern Dark Tranquillity combined with Colony-era In Flames... what's not to love?
It’s impossible to discuss The Halo Effect’s debut album, Days of the Lost
, without referencing Dark Tranquillity and In Flames. From the guitar melodies to the moody atmospheres, the inspiration comes directly from those two bands – and why shouldn’t it? The Halo Effect features Mikael Stanne of Dark Tranquillity on vocals and is rounded out entirely by ex-In Flames members including Jesper Stromblad and Niclas Engelin on guitars, Peter Iwers on bass, and Daniel Svensson on Drums. Even if you didn’t know about The Halo Effect’s members, it wouldn’t be hard to figure it out once the music starts because Days of the Lost
proudly displays its influences on every song. From the In Flames camp, you get the energy and melodies that dominated the Colony
era, and from Dark Tranquillity you get the moody, dense, song writing of the band’s modern sound.
Other than an In Flames-style guitar solo near the end, opening track “Shadowminds” sounds like it could have come from just about any Dark Tranquillity album post-Character
. It opens with some fleeting electronics, a standard Dark Tranquillity guitar melody, a mid-tempo delivery, and Mikael Stanne’s easily recognizable vocals. Unfortunately, it was also the pre-release single and led some fans to believe Days of the Lost
was going to be a Dark Tranquillity clone; it’s not – well, not entirely. Days of the Lost
features songs such as the opening track, “The Needless End”, “In Broken Trust”, and “The Most Alone” that sound like a guitar-driven version of modern Dark Tranquillity. It’s no exaggeration to say that without any track data I would absolutely believe those songs were from a future Dark Tranquillity release – one where they let Christopher Amott and Johan Reinholdz contribute – but there’s more to the album than that. Days of the Lost
is also a portal back to Colony
-era In Flames. Songs such as “Days of the Lost”, “Conditional”, and “Feel What I Believe” all feature quick energetic tempos, prominent dual guitar melodies, and plenty of bouncy riffs but mixed with the superior vocals of Mikael Stanne.
If Days of the Lost
was just a thinly veiled split release where Mikael Stanne dabbled in guitar-driven Dark Tranquillity, and ex-In Flames members got to relive the glory days of their classic era the album would still be good, but it wouldn’t feel cohesive. The songs that glue the album together are the ones where the band blends their influences into a single track. Songs such as “Gateways” are what I imagined Dark Tranquillity was going to sound like when they brought on Christopher Amott and Johan Reinholdz. These songs that blend the varying influences are dominated by quick tempos, solid guitar riffs, harmonies, and solos but they’re also still atmospheric and moody. Later in the album, the band even step slightly outside their comfort zone when they feature some hardcore shouts from Trivium’s Matt Heafy over a melancholic guitar harmony and pounding percussion culminating in Heafy singing over a Mikael Stanne growl.
Like many others, when “Shadowminds” was released, I thought it sounded like a decent Dark Tranquillity song, but nothing more. The significant Dark Tranquillity influence was also a surprise because The Halo Effect is almost entirely comprised of ex-In Flames members. Fortunately, though, Days of the Lost
isn’t just a guitar-driven Dark Tranquillity clone. While there are songs that would fit comfortably in that band’s discography, there’s also a welcome throwback to Colony
-era In Flames as well as a handful of songs that blend all the influences together. At the end of the day, The Halo Effect’s Days of the Lost
is an excellent combination of modern-day Dark Tranquillity and Colony
-era In Flames blended to varying degrees to deliver an album that should be a welcome addition to any fan of either band.