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Solar Halos – heavy psych – review not written in the woods


Shall we start off big, yes, with nature, yes, the large and abstract surfaces that indirectly surround us. General to specific, presence to absence, until deadly nothingness. The specific and the expert are not about variety, leading to a deeper concentration on single ideas, like what the most obvious advantage of writing in a log cabin is, which I’m not an expert in.


The North Carolina heavy psych/stoner/doom generic-tagged trio called Solar Halos, as five-star entertainment, may be a combination of just a couple of great, unique elements that shine pretty brightly. They use the same instruments as everybody else in metal, but with a slightly different approach, a distorted Zen-like circling sound “movement.” It’s a post-metal new simplicity organized with a side open, for the experimental, like a Robert Motherwell painting. All heavy metal-ness out of the system and onto something else, progress, not so much about technique used for rock & roll, but more of an atmospheric developed consciousness alive with soundscaping, a mindful attitude in consequence research and affects.


The luminous Solar Halos have a consistent riff-looping at times, playing out like a time-release pill, blurring the line between repetition and the actual line. The energy brought forth while fighting on these edges, and not losing it, is what the meaning is. The meaning unveils energy, awareness, and perseverance. That’s the heavy, the new wave of North American psych metal (NWONAPM), eh? Like Horseback?


The band has created a core soul in heavy metal sound with vocalist/guitarist Nora Rogers delivering an elegant performance similar to that of Laura Pleasants of Kylesa, compassionate, almost soothing, for everybody. There is a drive in Rogers’ vocals, it could seem to go on forever, reading like an audio book collection of learning from one’s shitty experiences. Will she lose control after 3 minutes? No, no out of the ordinary endings or 5-minute fade-outs consisting of some wind and water samples. It’s a joyful drudgery through the tunes, taking the long scenic way (but not) home. Unlike dancing, it could be one of giving instructions for some sort of nature climb, or an abnormal pattern recognition test – linear movements.


The lyrics and arrangements remind me of Color Field paintings from the 1950s executed by the likes of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, but without the intense color. As the opposite, Solar Halos seems neutral in aura, keeping things under control with just hints of “color tone” in their sound, just enough to know that color exists. I’ll call them the Cy Twombly of music – a comparison to visual art – with the habits of nature and psyche put-down-ritually in response to a one word title.


Solar Halos’ lyrics are about the purity, openness, and power of nature. By describing nature as so vast and abstract, it creates the opposite in thought, that it is quite small and precise and individual – something closer to the single mind’s capability in one place and time. The idea is similar to the aphorism that the older you get, the less you understand – (knowledge < understanding).


Unlike the band’s seeming celebration of it, other types of sonic artistry can destroy itself within something so repetitive – music in general, entropy. The big bang reverses. The Earth’s end all. The end.


Solar Halos’ self-titled debut LP was released through the UK’s Devouter Records on 20 January 2014. Turn on.

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