@planetmosh reviews Omni\One by .@HaloTora on East End Records.
If there’s one thing that can be said of a Glasgow crowd it’s that they’re honest. Whether it’s a football crowd, a theatre audience or at a gig if you aren’t any good they’ll let you know. As a reviewer I’ve been to a lot of gigs where the support act has struggled, either because they aren’t any good, or because they’re not very well suited to the headliner they’re opening for. I’ve heard acts being ripped apart by unappreciative audiences. Perhaps even worse I’ve seen acts come on stage, play their set and leave again without even a ripple of acknowledgement. On the flip side I’ve seen unknown artists shuffle on stage largely unnoticed and then be unable to get off stage due to the roars and cheers demanding more from them. Sometimes the best support acts can ask for is that people sit up and take notice and a few months ago that’s exactly what happened to Halo Tora when they opened the show at Glasgow’s O2 ABC for Mark Tremonti. I’m sure not many people there had heard of them, but by the end of their set the entire crowd was on their side, a couple of thousand new fans had been created and I’d even put down my camera to applaud from the photo pit. The other thing about a Glasgow crowd is that they aren’t particularly partisan, coming from Glasgow doesn’t win you brownie points if you’re crap, so don’t expect that to get you through. Halo Tora won over the crowd that night because they were bloody good, and I, along with many others, sat up and took notice.
Fast forward a few months and the band have just released their debut album, Omni\One and are currently touring the UK in support of it. I was lucky enough to be at the gig at Audio in Glasgow on the day the album was released. That gig sold out six weeks in advance, tickets were like gold dust and by the end of the night the floor was like an ice rink as hundreds of bodies packed the venue from wall to wall. If I wasn’t before I’m now completely convinced that this band is something very, very special.
Omni\One has been a long time in the making. The band decided early on that they wanted to do this their own way, make the album they wanted to make and to be in creative control. As a result they’ve released Omni\One on their own label, East End Records, and it’s taken a bit longer to get it out there but it’s been so worth it. This album is nothing short of extraordinary. Guitars and dual vocals from Chris Alexander and Ian McCall, keyboards from Ryan Connery, bass from Mark Young and drums from Chris McKeown combine and create an ethereal, haunting, soaring sound in parts reminiscent of Pink Floyd but also completely original. From opening track Trans/Zero to the final moments of Omni\One I find myself transported, unaware of anything but the music. Current single Permanent Revolution is a perfect example. From the opening keyboard notes keeping time throughout, to the building guitars and the way the two vocals separate then come together in harmony, to Mark and Chris at the low end making it just flow the whole track is the reason this band touches me in a nutshell. You’d think that would be enough but it’s then followed by Ruins, The Bones that Rock the Cradle and Tonight. In a short while we at Planetmosh will begin putting together our top ten albums of the year and those three songs will be the reason Omni\One goes straight to the top of my list. The Bones that Rock the Cradle in particular has such a raw, emotive vocal you’d need the proverbial heart of stone not to be touched by it. Having said that I don’t want you to think this is a quiet, floaty, soft album. It’s not. Once the guitars kick in on Under the Surface, Alexander’s whisper becomes a roar. There’s a lot bubbling under the surface of Omni\One and when it breaks out it is simply best to let it hit you. The acoustic intro to The Executioner is another highlight, just a guitar and a stunning vocal that segues into the track proper with sweeping guitars and low, threatening lyrics like a breaking thunderstorm. In short, I could go on all day about how good Omni\One is, but you’d be far better served by just listening to it. The band are on the road right now, if they come within a hundred miles of you get yourself to a gig, it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made.
The Bones That Rock the Cradle
Under the Surface
Age of Terror
Red X is Mandatory