I hate to admit this, but I am not all that familiar with the Gothenburg genre and the melodeath bands that inspired it, as I spent my formative years as a metalhead listening to all sorts of other European and American metal bands and figuring out what suited my personal taste. Even though my go-to genre is symphonic metal, I have a pretty eclectic taste in metal generally, which let me to sample DARK TRANQUILLITY’s 2020 exquisite release, “Moment.” So, when news started to spread about THE HALO EFFECT and their debut single, “Shadowminds,” I knew I had to check it out.
The line-up of the band is as follows: Jesper Strömblad on rhythm guitar, Niclas Engelin on lead guitar, Peter Iwers on bass, Mikael Stanne on lead vocals, and Daniel Svensson on drums, all former members of IN FLAMES save Stanne, who is known for singing for the aforementioned DARK TRANQUILLITY. With such accomplished musicians, excellent music was expected… and that is exactly what the band delivered with the release of “Shadowminds” in November. Based on this single I am excited about their upcoming album, which is scheduled to be released sometime in 2022 via Nuclear Blast.
The first thing I noticed while listening to this song was how incredibly melodic the guitars were as Jesper Strömblad and Niclas Engelin work together nicely to form the harmonic backbone of the song. The second thing I noticed (and actually wished for) was that Mikael Stanne didn’t use any clean vocals in the song as, initially, I thought they were going for that harsh/clean dynamic. While I love his clean vocals on “Moment,” I appreciate the fact that he delivered only harsh vocals throughout the song, as they add a gritty edge to it and clash with the melodic guitars. The vocal melody in the chorus is simple but effective, making it sound huge and will translate wonderfully in a live setting with fans singing along. As for the rhythm section, Peter Iwers’ bass work is solid and rumbling underneath the layers of guitars and vocal melodies, working together with Daniel Svensson’s drums to keep a steady beat. The guitar solo is nice and melodic, but unfortunately, it doesn’t really stand out on its own in the smooth progression of the song.
Even if there is nothing over-the-top about this song, everything being pretty straightforward and slick, I don’t think that was the point. The point of “Shadowminds” was to stir people’s curiosity in this new project, bring back memories of IN FLAMES and DARK TRANQUILLITY‘s early years, and whet the appetite for THE HALO EFFECT’s upcoming album. I would say that it is mission accomplished successfully not just because of the stellar line-up but also because of the focus it brings on the iconic Gothenburg Sound, and especially the way its pioneers see the original melodic death metal sound so many decades later.
Bear (ed): I’ve been beaten to the punch! I, too, intended to list this as a Song of the Day, though my reasoning is quite different. I am a fan of IN FLAMES dating back to the “Colony” days of 1999, but lost my love for them a decade or so later, having been rather unimpressed by their last three releases. So to me, THE HALO EFFECT was not just a flashback into the sounds and styles that made IN FLAMES great back in the day, it also offers a little something different with Mikael Stanne‘s sound. While I wouldn’t have been opposed to some clean vocals, and while the song as a whole is far from what I expect the pinnacle of such a collaboration to be… this song just fills me with heavy, happy energy and makes me want to mosh around my house. It’s a tall glass of refreshing water after being starved of those classic IF sounds that got me into Gothenburg and melodic death metal, and I can’t wait to drink more!
Check out the video below and watch the masters at work:
Written by Andrea Crow