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Album Review: Heaven In Her Arms – White Halo

Some bands have the unfortunate situation of living in shadow of other bigger bands; maybe they have similar sounds, are from the same places, and/or have similar aesthetics. This has been the case for Heaven In Her Arms, who have long been compared to and been put second to Envy since they are both post-rock infused screamo bands from Japan who perform their lyrics in Japanese even though they have a sound heavily influenced by western punk and hardcore. However, on White Halo, the third album by Heaven in Her Arms, the band makes an effort to get out of the mould and strive for something greater.

The most noticeable change in sound for the band becomes blatant on the first real song on the album, after a calm and serene intro “Ray of Light at Dusk,” the band breaks into pummelling guitar riffs and blast beats that gives of a strong blackgaze influence on the song “Abyss of the Moonbrow.” However despite the newfound elements of black metal, that the mix of post-rock and screamo is still at the core of White Halo‘s sound. The atmospheric guitars, and build ups and pays offs, and both wretched screamed vocals and spoken word that has been the centre of their sound since their debut is still present, but this time around they’re expanded on with new ideas. Even on the second song these elements show up later on in its eight minute runtime, which result in a really creative song that winds in and out of different ideas in a tasteful and natural manner.

The same experimentation doesn’t go over as well on the next two songs, because while they are still decent songs, they don’t have the same seamless nature of the song before it. On these songs the differing elements doesn’t come together as well, but they are still good songs that warrants listening to, even if they won’t capture you the same way “Ray of Light at Dusk” most likely will.

The band experiments even further on the interlude “Chain with Feathers” with its field recordings and pieces of “Fugue In D Minor” played very dramatically on an organ, but unfortunately it doesn’t end up adding much to the album and ends up being one of the few missteps on a mostly solid release.

However, despite some of the flaws in the midpoint of the album, Heaven In Her Arms comes together with a strong finish on its two last songs. While the breakbeat and drum machine intro on the closer “Turbid Fog” might be redundant and slightly undercooked, the beautiful guitar melodies and patient build up to a grand and ambitious and quite epic finish to a solid and immersive album. With White Halo more than ever has Heaven In Her Arms have proved themselves to be a band worth paying attention to and caring about, and to make you excited for what they maybe will do next.

White Halo is out now on TRANSLATION LOSS records.

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