REVIEW - The Black Halos - 'How The Darkness Doubled' (Album - Stomp Records)
Formed in 1994, during the end days of grunge's dominance, Vancouver's The Black Halos provided a punky antidote to the downtuned stylings of Seattle's finest, with their mix of amped-up glam punk and rabble rousing melodies. Releasing two acclaimed albums either side of the turn of the century - 'Black Halos' (1999) and 'The Violent Years' (2001) - the band petered out with 2007's 'We Are Not Alone' being the last full-length release from them. After a spell with Michael Monroe, Amen and Ginger Wildheart, guitarist Rich Jones got back with original vocalist Bill Hopeless and guitarist Jay Millette, recruiting new members John Kerns (bass) and Danni Action (drums) and got on with the job of putting together 'How The Darkness Doubled' - the spiritual follow-up to 'The Violent Years'. And from the snarling duel guitar opening of 'A History Of Violence' it's clear that the lights have not dimmed on the group's satisfying aggressive melodies and world-weary but always defiant lyrical outlook.
'A History Of Violence' kicks off the album in fine and typical style, its slicing, razor-sharp guitars, pounding drums and stomping bass lines all topped off with Billy Hopeless' menacing growl and chant-along chorus. Slamming riffs abound on the high-octane 'Tenement Kids', 'Uncommonwealth' and 'Even Hell Is Looking Down' while Jones' current involvement with Michael Monroe sees the ex-Hanoi Rocks man guest on an uplifting cover of Wanderers' 'Ready To Snap'. Closer 'A Positive Note' is a roaring, driving finish to the album with its fast-paced punky moves, but amongst all the brute force of the songs lies an innate sense of melody, none more so than in the album's mid-section of three songs, 'Forget Me Knot', 'Better Days' and 'You Can't Take Back The Night' where backing harmonies accompany catchy chant-along choruses and the melodic guitar lines of 'Ain't No Good Time To Say Goodbye'.
Expertly mastered by Dave Draper (The Wildhearts / The Professionals), 'How The Darkness Doubled' is a magnificient returning shot from The Black Halos, reeling back the years yet also maintaining they stay relevant in today's punk / alternative / rock scene. With tunes that are both melody-driven and tight hard-edged punk rock, the album should delight all older fans of the band and draw in new younger fans that may not have even been born when the band formed, and has deservedly drawn rave reviews and been in best of year polls for last year of a number of magazines and blogs. Let's hope this new offering is only the first in the band's resurrection - it is, after all, good to have them back.
'How The Darkness Doubled' is out now, available on all the major digital sites and The Black Halos Bandcamp page - Music | The Black Halos (bandcamp.com)