Setting the new musical year off to a stunning and potent start, US rockers Solar Halos unleash their debut album, a release conjuring a tantalising mesmeric brew of stoner and psychedelic rock with further explorations which simply seduces the imagination and passions into hungry life. Out 20th January via Devouter Records, the self-titled album is a masterful temptation and beautifully crafted evocative expanse of heavy unrelenting rock leading the listener into one of the first great adventures of 2014.
Hailing from Chapel Hill, North Carolina the trio certainly comes with a rich pedigree to its line-up. Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Nora Rogers, formerly of Horseback and Curtains of Night, Caltrop and Horseback drummer John Crouch, and Fin Fang Foom bassist Eddie Sanchez, Solar Halos feed expectations bred from its line-up and then shows them another creative level through imagination and sonic invention. Soaked in a doom like weight yet finding a radiant and transfixing resourcefulness generally absent in the genre through varied textures and sounds, the band’s first album is an enthralling and intensive examination of and feast for senses and emotions. A travelogue of heated and dusty climes brought through an ever shifting provocative aural landscape.
The album opens with The Vast White Plains and immediately hits the appetite with a delicious grizzly bass sound within ear entwining sonic guitar lines, all caged by the hypnotic rhythmic sculpting of Crouch. Within its first seconds the song has attention rigidly glued to its magnetic lure, a hold which is only cemented further once the distinctive and absorbing vocals of Rogers begin the lyrical narrative. The combination is unstoppable as the track winds the passions around its rhythmic fingers, its sonic persuasion drifting into continual enterprise and bordering exhaustive intensity. With additional vocals from Sanchez as effective and pleasing as those of Rogers to further flavour the rich lure of the song, it is a mighty and riveting start.
The following Tunnels takes a more reserved approach as its entrance but one with melodic flames and a tempered rhythmic gait which only engages thoughts as eagerly as its predecessor. A crawling journey through seemingly doom seeded psychedelic waters, the track heavily leans on the ear yet with the warm life filled vocals and incendiary melodies cast by the guitar it feels like a plunge through dark emotional depths lit by a beacon of hope and warmth. As with the first track every aspect of the song coaxes out rapturous responses, its twisting and inventive enterprise reinforcing the lure and lingering beauty of the wonderfully intrusive feel of adventure. There is a definite Horseback tone to the music as well as elements of Kyuss and at times Jess and the Ancient Ones but as the second song finishes there is no denying that Solar Halos crafts a sound which is uniquely theirs.
Both the soaring rigorous flight of Migration and the atmospheric scenery of Frost continue the impressive presence of the album, the second especially with a carnivorous tone to the bass and another mouthwatering rhythmic taunting by Crouch igniting another wash of emotional rabidity within for its offering. Their triumphs are soon followed by the chilled touch of Wilderness, a song which builds mountainous sonic ranges and heavyweight rhythmic caverns to explore and spark the imagination within. The most doom washed track on the release but again one which teases and invites bright burning flames from within its dark shadows, it builds a thick tide of scuzz filled provocation and melodic heat provoking thoughts and emotions to delve only deeper with each excursion through its fascination.
Resonance brings the album to a close, the track eight minutes of sonic incitement and rhythmic enslaving. It is a glorious slowly invasive triumph to complete a breath-taking release. Everything from the great vocal blend of Rogers and Sanchez, the guitar’s senses encircling spirals of expressive melodic suasion, and the almost goading and certainly anthemic rhythmic bait of the bass and Crouch’s outstanding drum craft, enslaves ears and imagination. Like the album as a whole, the track just gets better and impresses more with each course through its striking landscape and steals top honours on the release though it is constantly challenged by the other tracks.
Solar Halos instantly stand aside the likes of Horseback and Royal Thunder through their debut and it is not hard to suspect that the threesome will be forging major heights in the future. 2014 could not be off to a better start.
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