The Halo Effect
Days of the Lost

At this point, shitting on a new In Flames record is a metalhead pastime on par with making fun of James Hetfield’s gratuitous “YEEEEAAH”-ing or screaming “SLAYERRRRRRRRRR” at ridiculous and nonsensical moments. Depending on when you decided that one of metal’s most influential and prolific acts jumped the shark, we’re talking actual decades since they’ve made a record that a large portion of the metal community feels is satisfactory to the legendary status that they (rightfully) made for themselves, and have spent that time lambasting the artistic journey they have taken instead. Which is kind of a bummer!

That said, In Flames, armed with an almost entirely new lineup, has recently released a couple of singles that have had many applauding a sort of “return to form” for the band. Ironically, this comes at a time when one of metal’s newest super groups, The Halo Effect, have been creating a lot of buzz with their slow release of singles over the last year or so – a great deal of which has been directly tied to their relationship with In Flames – specifically, about The Halo Effect being the band that In Flames “should be.” Of course, when the band consists entirely of past (and one current) members of In Flames, the comparisons are predictable and inevitable.

So yeah, Jesper Stromblad, Niclas Engelin, Peter Iwers, Daniel Svensson and Mikael Stanne are in a band together now. This is, without question, cause for celebration! But please do not make this about In Flames, or Dark Tranquillity for that matter. Or Gardenian. Or any other act these legendary musicians have ever been a part of. Just stop, because Days of the Lost deserves so much more than being reduced to a comparison to something else. This album is a master class in and completely of itself.

This is not to say the you don’t hear the obvious hint at any of these guys’ previous works. Indeed, if you want to live in a bubble where this is just bizarro world In Flames, you will find a couple tracks that nicely fill that self-assigned role. The albums title track comes right out the gate with a lead melody that would certainly find itself completely at home on Colony or Clayman, and goddamn if it’s not a thing of absolute beauty. Same can be said for standout track “Feel What I Believe,” though beyond that earworm melody you do also get a very hefty dose of modern day Dark Tranquillity built into the mix as well, particularly when you’re hit with it’s exuberant, empowering chorus that sees Mikael Stanne putting his trademark lyricism on full display. Stanne, in his ever-compelling ways, leaves his own artistic flair over this album just as much as the prolific guitar powerhouse combo that is Stromblad and Engelin. If his powerful and distinct vocals during the the chorus of the “The Needless End” or emotional crooning on “In Broken Trust” don’t reach out and take grip of your senses, then you just ain’t among the living, man. It’s as gripping a performance as anything he’s done throughout his storied career.

And I think maybe this is getting to the point I’m trying to make about The Halo Effect. We’ve got one of Melodic Death Metal’s most celebrated voices, paired with two guitarists who have left their mark on generations of guitarist as much as anyone in the history of Heavy Metal (this isn’t hyperbole, it’s just fact), all backed by one of the genre’s most solid and experienced rhythm sections who are also both turning in exceptional performances throughout Days of the Lost. I could give fuck-all about what any of them have done before, other than to say that these five individuals coming together to play music is astonishing and incredible. This is a group that, at their collective best, are forging new paths that don’t need or merit comparison. Even at their most basic, they’re putting their collective expertise together to celebrate a genre that they’ve been mastering now for over three decades. The dark and moody “gateways” is a product of all their lives’ work put into something you’d likely never quite hear the same on any In Flames or Dark Tranquillity offering. “Last of our kind,” featuring a fantastic guest vocal appearance by Matt Heafy (Trivium, Ibaraki) even takes an almost Finnish approach in it’s Melodeath delivery, adding yet another wrinkle to the band’s cache of weaponry. Conversely, my favorite track, “A Truth Worth Lying For,” puts on display a sort of bombast and energy that almost sounds like Jesper Stromblad’s nod to the Metalcore genre he almost single-handedly helped to inspire, and includes a crushing riff that’s about as good as anything I’ve heard from his or Engelin’s fret board in some time.

Ultimately, here is the difficult (perhaps impossible for some) task that I offer to you: Let In Flames be In Flames. Let Dark Tranquillity be Dark Tranquillity. And let The Halo Effect be The Halo Effect. Despite whatever your opinion of any of these bands current state may be, they all offer their own distinct and unique contribution to the world of metal, and yes, they can all exist completely on their own. Go ahead and celebrate the new In Flames tracks not because they “sound like old In Flames.” They don’t, and frankly, they really can’t. They sound like In Flames in 2022 and that’s just ducky in my book. We don’t need to create some dumb “rivalry” between them and The Halo Effect. Furthermore, just enjoy Days of the Lost for what it is! if you can find it in yourself to do this, you will open it it’s complete glory, and I genuinely believe you will enjoy it all the more for it. The masterclass in melody, the unbridled display of vocal presence and confidence, everything offered here is top of it’s class, and worthy of all the acclaim it receives.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
August 8th, 2022


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