The Halo Effect – Days Of The Lost Review

Metal sees so many reformations and regroupings that genuine surprise is rare. Yet when it was announced that Mikael Stanne, Jesper Strömblad, Peter Iwers, Niclas Engelin, and Daniel Svensson had formed a band together my reaction was one of genuine surprise. Not that I assumed In Flames and Dark Tranquillity were mortal enemies or anything—but it seemed an unlikely union given Iwers and Strömblad’s then-present distance from melodic death metal and Stanne’s twenty-eight-year distance from In Flames.

Once the shock wore off, my thoughts turned to what this band of ex-In Flamers would sound like. Logic would dictate a number of equally likely outcomes. Given Iwers and Strömblad’s more recent involvement in Cyhra and Stanne’s increasing interest in clean vocals, The Halo Effect could just as easily have been a melodic metal project as a melodic death metal band. Fortunately for us, the group is decidedly the latter.

With Days of the Lost, Stanne and Co. made the wise decision to play to their current strengths rather than to predetermine or forcefully resurrect a particular sound. The album feels as much a product of Dark Tranquillity’s more recent melodicism as it does old In Flames’ Maidenisms. Just as Stanne can’t help but pen some uber-memorable vocal hooks, Stromblad can’t help but play his signature style of melodeath, and sometimes the two meet beautifully here, as on “Conditional.” Other times, it is just the former, as on “In Broken Trust,” barring the solo about two-thirds of the way in.

Your enjoyment of this album will be directly related to your ability to resist the instinct to situate it in the In Flames discography. It in no way sounds exactly like any one In Flames album. So please ignore any comparisons to Clayman or Reroute. That latter comparison is especially troubling—I thought I was the only one who still liked that album. But the appearance of this band apparently brought out the nostalgia nerd in everyone because I heard it bandied about in several corners of the Internet. Look, as much joy as I get from “Cloud Connected,” Days of the Lost is a more consistent, more aggressive, and less bloated experience.

Regardless of whether they sound more or less like In Flames, the stronger tracks here are the heavier ones. “Conditional,” “Shadowminds,” “Last of Our Kind,” “The Most Alone,” and the title track are such highlights. The Strömblad/Engelin pairing is an expected home run. The somewhat excessive use of ambient intros and outros distracts a smidge from that pairing, and that may be how people are arriving at the aforementioned Reroute comparison, but the duo shine bright and mostly unobstructed throughout.

My appreciation for Days of the Lost was by no means as instant as my enjoyment of the album. From the distance of the first few listens, those heavier tracks seemed to shoulder the weight of expectation. Not that I disliked “In Broken Trust,” “A Truth Worth Lying For,” or any of the other more melodic songs with clean vocals but, let’s face it, those aren’t the songs drawing most of us to this band. Yet with time I grew to appreciate some of the diversity here. Though I wish there would have been just a bit more of the Maiden-like melodeath, that’s perhaps what sophomore albums are for.

Posted by Chris C

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