A DARK HALO – Omnibus One
RELEASE YEAR: 2023
BAND URL: https://adarkhalo.bandcamp.com/
As Fear Factory gets its second breath after losing the original extraordinary vocalist Burton C. Bell, numerous bands crop up inspired by Fear Factory’s phenomenal combination of metal, industrial and electronics they dubbed cybermetal. Then, of course, some additional genre melding is expected, nü metal riff here, progressive passage there and liberal helpings of gothic rock a’la Evanescence, especially given a capable female vocalist. Such appears to be the case with the Texan quintet A Dark Halo featuring founders Dave Lowmiller (vocals, bass, keyboards) and Christopher Matthew “Jonesy” Jones (lead guitars) as well as Abe Robertson (2019-guitars), Kaye Papale (2019-drums) and Melissa “Melrose” Rosenberg (female vocals, 2021-guitars), who are on their 2nd full length Omnibus One²⁰²³ released on Heavy Armor on July 14th to follow the debut Catalyst²⁰⁰⁶ (interestingly, already on Heavy Armor 2 years after formation) a whopping 17 (!) years later, except that they add a few more genres to the table: some melodic death here, some djent, pop and hardcore there. It makes for a palatable mixture.
One of their definite strengths is the vocal chorus melodies. The excellent opener’s “Thin Be The Veil”, the favorite and the perfect “Starfall” or “Flame Betide” are a delight to the ears recalling the aforementioned Burton C. Bell and Fear Factory or even their later derivative Scar Symmetry, but in the Texans’ case we have a very effective cooperation of male (clean and growls) and female vocals which reminds me of Draconian. I can’t decide which of the two perfections: “Starfall” or “It Never Sleeps” is my favorite but what I do know is they both landed in my “Kept Singles” phone music folder for a frequent future revisitation, in no small courtesy of Melissa’s warm and lovely dreamy cleans which recall Christian pop artist Michelle Tumes. One can get easily lost in a voice like that, especially in the beautifully depressing “Afterworld” where “cruel is the dawn in arriving everyday, blinding sun to remind only the light is gone away”. Occassionally the album brings the Paradise Lost’s so called “Depeche Mode era” especially Host¹⁹⁹⁹, which, of course, is a big plus, but A Dark Halo can death metal in the vein of All Shall Perish when you least expect it (although the production could have been a little heavier), with requent BOOM! bass beat akin to Fear Factory’s Obsolete¹⁹⁹⁸. Sure, some of the ideas don’t seem to flow together as smoothly as they could, most notably on the uneventful “I, Revenant”, which is thanfully the shortest track, plus the second half is noticeably weaker than the first, and, finally 36:25 minutes for 8 tracks maybe okay for a brutal death metal album but here I feel a little shorted. In all, a very good album with plenty of room for improvement in the future.