Review: OGRE & Dallas Campbell – All Hallows’ II

Retrowave duo OGRE and Dallas Campbell demonstrate a preternatural approach to synth-music on their latest fictitious score.

All Hallows’ II is a conceptual soundtrack to a fictional horror film, akin to the style of an 80s-horror film. Despite collaborating thousands of miles from each other (OGRE is based in southwest England, whereas Dallas Campbell lives in West Virginia) and relying on Dropbox to share their instrumental, the duo present a collection of delicately composed tracks, incorporating a range of different styles throughout the project. Elements of 80s synth-pop and industrial music are featured, as well as gothic-rock and dance music.

A key component to All Hallows’ II is the thirty-eight-page PDF file that accompanies the album. The file provides a collection of archive documents serving as context to the album’s narrative, proposing a mystery story revolving around an institution where a disturbing event has taken place. Song titles are referenced throughout the documents, but the actual story is shrouded in mystery, encouraging the listener to form their own conclusions about what took place. It’s a unique concept, and the material only enhances the quality of the tracks presented.

Tone plays a pivotal role as an aspect of storytelling in All Hallows’ II. During the narrative’s early stages, ‘Last Days of Daylight Part II’ illustrates a bright, peaceful setting, inviting the listener into a world that has yet to be unhinged by the chaos to come. A warm melody rests lightly over the track’s percussion section, accompanied by a trill of faint, somewhat supernatural notes that weave in-and-out of the ensemble. The track feeds off a nostalgic soundscape, yet the familiarity doesn’t feel forced.

Further down the tracklist, ‘The Path Set Before Us’ instigates a striking shift in mood. A series of dissonant, pitch-shifted notes loom over a thunderous chord, which is repeated incessantly. The synthesisers mimic the sound of human screams, conjuring an insidious soundscape that initiates the urgency heard within the proceeding tracks.

Interludes are featured throughout All Hallows’ II, allowing for different moods to shift between one another. ‘Autopsy’ is an industrial track that presents the themes of isolation and despair, whereas ‘The Abyss Above’ has an alien quality to it, suggesting that some sort of supernatural event has occurred. The track ‘Run’ mimics a chase scene in a particularly captivating fashion, with the urgent notation alerting the listener that danger is on the verge.  These interludes allow for the album to progress thematically, further embracing the project’s cinematic quality.

The track ‘911’ features a gothic overtone, presented through an ensemble of orchestral chords, a cascading synth melody and marching percussion. ‘The Gate Is Open’ contains both elements of post-punk, with a brazen, infectious melody hovering over a dance beat.

All Hallows’ II contains a remarkable collection of stylistically varied and nostalgic songs, carrying the listener through a harrowing narrative and leaving them eagerly awaiting the duo’s next project.

Sean Johnson

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