They must have heard our aching souls begging for appeasement and known that we would find solace in their tribal drum rituals and in those shrieks that pierce the nights of darkness. Be forewarned: The aural landscape has changed or is about to in 2013.
One band out there is in the experimental lab, sculpting a new type of sound, indulging in sonic architecture, marrying and merging the aural, the visual and the theatrical. No one has a crystal ball but, based on their graphic art, one could easily imagine this band in the future as cutting-edge travelling troubadours in a post-apocalyptic Cirque du soleil or carnival-inspired rock show, complete with grease paint, costumes, awnings and lasers and dancers, acrobats, mimes, firebreathers, jugglers, slinking in and out of view, maybe even robots and warriors in full armour.
Who are they? The band is called The Halo Method, the brainchild of Ben Moody (founder, lyricist and former guitarist of the ground-breaking band Evanescence and current member of We Are The Fallen, which he also founded), Dave Buckner (brilliant and authoritative ex-drummer for Papa Roach) and Lukas Rossi (solo artist and frontman for several bands, most recently the rather short-lived Rock Star Supernova – along with Tommy Lee, Gilby Clarke and Jason Newsted; Switchblade Glory, a musical project featuring renowned drummer Kenny Aronoff and which was recognized as the “Best Metal Band” at the 2012 Artists in Music Independent Music Awards; SouthDown, a Louisiana-based hard rock band; and, of course, his own alternative music creation, Stars Down, with which he occasionally tours). And standing sentinel as the fourth complementary piece of the puzzle is accomplished bassist Josh Newell, formerly of In This Moment.
Timeline: A Little Background
Eschewing the all-too-frequently-bandied-about label of a supergroup, The Halo Method has been quietly causing quite a buzz in the rock world this past year.
Late Summer 2012
Sometime in August of 2012, they went into the studio and started recording their debut CD. Even then, what they were creating was mysterious and intriguing. The name was cool and original but what did it mean? (It actually refers to a medical technique used on brain surgery patients to prevent risk of reinjury). The only hint as to what was to come slipped out in a photo of the sound engineer’s board listing the tracks they were laying down (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=294488010658222&set=a.287132371393786.61896.265411506899206&type=1&theater). The titles only added to the mystique: Porcelain. Sing The Anthem. Epic Halo. Beauty/Beast. Human Again. 15 mins. (untitled) Piano ballad.
Fall of 2012
Then, the band was featured in the September 19, 2012 issue of Revolver Magazine and streamed its first single, Beauty Is The Beast, in that online article: http://www.revolvermag.com/news/the-halo-method-featuring-former-members-of-evanescence-papa-roach-and-rockstar-supernova-give-first-interview-premiere-song.html.
Between November 28 and December 1, 2012, the band performed its inaugural couple of concerts aboard the MSC Poesia as part of the prestigious 2012 ShipRocked rock-at-sea festival (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiprocked), an annual event where rock stars and fans come together for a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas and back which features headlining and new hard rock and metal groups that put on a rock-and-roll party like no other, just on water as opposed to terra firma. The Halo Method’s two gigs were captured on video and provide some insight into what this band is all about live (all available on www.youtube.com). The MCS Poesia was worthy of its name: there was a little more than just rock’n’roll aboard that ship; there was indeed some poetry in the air, maybe even some magic. The attendees of the 2012 edition of ShipRocked voted The Halo Method among their Top 8 favorite (of 32) bands that performed. They put up a fierce fight against Godsmack in the quarter-finals. Talk about putting yourself on the map musically! For a previously unheralded band, that was quite an honour and a feat since the roster included quite a few well-known and established stalwarts of the heavy music scene.
Late Spring 2013
Then, the band “disappeared” for a few months only to re-emerge and release its 4-track EP titled Reset for free on May 28, 2013 as part of a partnership with world-renowned ESP Guitars (http://espguitars.com/thehalomethod/index.html), followed by a lyrics video for the first track off the album, Toxic, which debuted this week, on Monday, June 3, 2013, once again on the Revolver Magazine Website (http://www.revolvermag.com/news/the-halo-method-featuring-former-members-of-evanescence-papa-roach-and-rock-star-supernova-debut-new-lyric-video-toxic.html).
The Reset EP
There are 4 tracks on the EP, each different in style.
The best song by far, at least musically, in Maestro’s humble opinion, is Porcelain. You know the feeling you get when you see a song title and somehow it conjures up a mental image of what it’s all about, it reveals itself even though you have never heard a note, and you know it’s going to be great? Porcelain was the song Maestro most wanted to hear ever since its title came to light during the summer of 2012. Not only does the song not disappoint, but it exceeds expectations. This track appears to be about human frailty and what better and ingenious way to convey it than by the title, Porcelain? Beautiful, beautiful song and rendition. Do yourself a favour: go and download it from the ESP Website or watch a live performance of it on YouTube:
The most lyrically amazing song on the EP is definitely Beauty Is The Beast. There is a sense of grandeur about this track. The song starts with some synthesizer that conveys a sense of ice crystals trickling, floating, falling, like sorrow frozen in time. Then, Gregorian-style chants rise from the beyond. One feels like an intruder in some monastic fortress, a peeping Tom spying on some obscure ritual of a secret society, where hunched monk-like figures move in procession in dark, moist, hallowed hallways, with their heads covered. And the song explodes into captivating, exceptional lyrics that wax poetic and verge on the philosophical. According to the interview the band gave to Revolver Magazine back on September 19, 2012, it is a track “about about killing yourself only to be rejected by something you’re dependent on” (Ben Moody’s words). The interviewer, Jon Wiederhorn, called it a “haunting anthem about unrequited love”. Here’s why:
She returns to that place we met
On that dark night in troubled water
I’m so afraid she’ll go away again
And call to me as the uninvited
Maybe I’ll walk away
Chorus: Cuz her beauty is the death of me
Her skin is white as snow
She always takes my breath away
But I still just can’t let go
Shall I refrain and never speak her name again
Or live a life and dreams left unrequited?
I the meek and she leviathan
Her beauty is the beast that undefines me
Bridge: Lead me and I’ll follow
Lead me and I’ll follow you everywhere
Several brilliant concepts here in the lyrics…:
“…And call to me as the uninvited…” Interesting contradiction in logic.
“…I the meek and she leviathan…” Beautifully said!
“…Her beauty is the beast that undefines me…” Wow! What a concept! The beast that (not defines but) undefines me. You could conceivably write a whole master’s thesis on that idea!
…And in the music…:
“…But I still just can’t let go…” This line is marked by a long, bloodcurdling shriek each time it is sung that sounds like someone’s soul is being ripped out of their being.
The two “weaker” (at least lyrically) and more generic tracks are Toxic and Crutch, though a couple of lines from Toxic are striking: “Your fairweather friends are changing you, They took you for a joyride” and “I will miss the violence“. It’s not that these two songs are more ‘pop’-sounding or more radio-friendly. Actually, quite the opposite. The music is good and hard-driving. It’s just that they are not quite as exceptional musically and lyrically as Porcelain and Beauty Is The Beast and they leave you slightly unsatisfied, wanting for more. That’s the flip side of being too brilliant in the other two tracks. Just a question of taste. Toxic and Crutch are appealing to the ear, just less Maestro’s cup of tea.
A Glimpse Into The Future: Full Album Out In The Fall of 2013
With bated breath, we await the release of the full CD in the Fall (date unspecified). Based on the setlist from the November 28, 2012 ShipRocked show, it appears that the full album could include the following songs in addition to the EP tracks:
Chasing Yesterday: This is a song Ben Moody wrote and included on his second full-length solo album, You Can’t Regret What You Don’t Remember, but revisited.
Wilt: Ever since the picture of the setlist at Shiprocked was tweeted out, Wilt was the title that stood out as the most intriguing. Isn’t there something inherently mysterious and thought-provoking about song titles encapsulated into one single word?
Sing The Anthem: ‘We are children of the Damned, We are children of the Damned’, the refrain screams. Can’t wait for a studio version of this.
From Dust: Gorgeous and dramatic sounding song.
I Am Giant:
Please wake me
This can’t be real
The blurry lines are focused
You’re a filthy one
Your time is come
Nobody knows you’re the guilty one
I got your number this time
Tonight I’m 10 feet tall
Now who’s laughing now?
Tonight I am Giant
I am brave
And I’m settling the score with you
You’re always breaking me down
Your big need, your crown
But I need to find my liberty again
Please don’t speak, there’s no need
Because all your words are worthless
I let you see the inside
I never wanna know another of your kind
How could I have been so blind?
I shoulda saw the signs (chorus)
And based on the original sound engineer’s board from August 2012, we might also expect songs that had the following working titles at the time: Epic Halo. Human Again. 15 mins. (untitled) Piano ballad. Sounds like a full CD with a good 12-14 tracks, including those from the EP.
The Halo Method’s music is dark but beautiful, savage but strangely soothing, it’s bold, bombastic, grandiose, theatrical, complex, layered, melodic, muscular in its drumming, testosterone-driven in its guitar and bass work, acrobatic in its vocals, it takes off into flights of fantasy, reaching into the ethereal, yet it is punctuated by primal screams that remind us that to be human is to suffer. There are abrupt shifts in rhythm, strangled notes, gushing fountains of music, stops-and-starts, towers, fortresses and spirals of sound, plunging voices drifting off into the ether and melting into the infinite. Definitely not run-of-the-mill.
2013 is nearly half-way through but the Maestro has a sneaky suspicion that, for a great many music lovers, their favorite album for this year just might be the work forged from the creative minds of The Halo Method. Hopefully to be followed by a tour. There’s nothing like appreciating a band live.
The Halo Method are:
Ben Moody – guitar;
Dave Buckner – drums;
Lukas Rossi – vocals;
Josh Newell – bass