Review: Halo Tora – Omni\One

The deeply atmospheric swathes of lush, reverb-drenched, distorted guitars and the reserved, twinkling keyboard tones of post rock make it a genre that one can completely lose oneself to, its often heartbreaking soundscapes drowning you in blissful harmony. Contrastingly, the more commercial ‘alternative’ rock sound carries anthemic, singalong tunes with crowd-baiting energy and beautifully pristine vocal arrangements, presenting the lyrical emotion in a forthright manner as it echoes around the world’s cavernous arenas. Though these two sound worlds are hardly chalk and cheese, neither are they bread and butter and housing the two within the same album, as Halo Tora have attempted with debut album Omni\One, is no easy task. On the whole, the sheer scale of the sound that these Glaswegian rocksmiths create places this album head and shoulders above what most acts in the alternative circuit could hope to put to tape on their first outing, and the first class production makes the dynamics of each and every song shimmer brilliantly. Intro track ‘Trans Zero’ sets things up nicely, with swelling synth lines and deep, atmospheric guitars, building in texture before mysteriously dying away completely and being replaced by the Linkin Park-esque, piano-led intro to ‘Permanent Revolution’. This confusing foreword aside though, Omni\One begins very strongly, with both ‘Permanent Revolution’ and ‘Ruins’ building into a crystalisation of what Halo Tora are trying to achieve throughout; shiny, clean vocals and melodies soaring above weighty yet moody layers of guitar-led heaviness. When these powerful walls of sound reach critical mass, the result is astounding, even with occasional nods towards the more ambient end of the tech-metal spectrum spicing things up rhythmically every so often. Vocally, there are many and varied obvious influences at play, but there is no sense of pure imitation; the delivery is always matched to the tone of the music. Album highlights ‘Under the Surface’ and ‘Age of Terror’ both feel like epics, such is the breadth of dynamic territory they cover, despite both staying around the relatively restrained 6-minute mark, with the former’s chorus a bona fide ear-worm. Unfortunately, several of the other tracks suffer a common flaw. Halo Tora are far from a schizophrenic musical force, but their penchant to try and cover everything within the relatively small musical spectrum they exist in sometimes means that they lose a truly strong sense of their own personality. Tracks like ‘The Bones that Rock the Cradle’ don’t quite manage the natural evolution from cerebral post-rock to punchy alt choruses, and as such feel slightly confused. Similarly, the balladry of ‘Tonight’ struggles to find an identity, and even ends up offering post-hardcore-esque wooooooaaaah-ing at its conclusion, which feels out of place when compared to the serenity of other tracks. Closing track ‘Omni One’ is a gorgeously ethereal lament, and thankfully does a lot to remind the listener of all that has been good about Omni\One, which is, on the whole, a strong album and certainly an incredibly impressive debut. Halo Tora have laid down the gauntlet for their future selves to refine and trim down what is clearly an ambitious sound to conquer, and the highs of this album suggest they have the skills to succeed.

Richard Spencer

Rating: 4/5

For fans of: Oceansize, Karnivool, Foo Fighters

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