Fireworks

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Halo Blind - 'Occupying Forces' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/72/8a/10/halo-blind-occupying-forces-59-1419883922.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 29, 2014    
 
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Enter with the correct frame of mind and the rewards are great.

Murmurings of Prog Rock "super-groups" and possible 2010 "Debut Albums Of The Year" had me scritchy scratching my head as to why I hadn't actually heard of Halo Blind before. Although the fact that said debut, 'The Fabric', arrived under the band name Parade and that the line-up of this renamed act (thanks to a now defunct "girl group" – HB is cooler anyway...) only retains two from the original cavalcade, explains much of my scalp scraping.

So gone are Anne Marie Helder, Patrick Berry and Simon Snaize, while hustling through the revolving door come Andy Knights (Chris Helme), Chris Farrell (The Yards, Chris Sheehan) and Stuart Fletcher (Seahorses, Happy Mondays, St Etienne... but don't let that put you off); the returnees being Chris Johnson (Fish, Mostly Autumn, Heather Findlay Band) and Gavin Griffiths (Fish, Mostly Autumn, Panic Room).

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Style-wise what this new collective conjure is the modern take on Prog the likes of The Pineapple Thief or Radiohead have created successfully in recent years, an, at times, maudlin outlook lashed to virtuoso performances and bleak lyrical forays. Somehow this admittedly down in the mouth approach causes the listener to smile, as layers and layers of ideas crash together with consistently impressive results. 'Brain Dog' grates stark beats into an abrasive gushing of guitars, 'Torrential' uses a fragile framework to build into a song of strength and depth, 'Mirage' an intricate arrangement of percussion, voice and acoustic guitar to capture the imagination in a gentle grasp, releasing the thoughts midway through to allow them to fly free.

There's no getting away from the claustrophobic and oppressive nature of much of 'Occupying Forces', yet neither can I deny that it is still an album capable of floating and dancing as though a leaf on the wind. Enter with the correct frame of mind and the rewards are great, for the many facets and sounds this album contains, release a slow soak of enjoyment, raising an initially remote sounding experience into one of wonderful familiarity, even though new discoveries always remain around every listening corner.

Steven Reid

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