Ever wanted to travel into a black hole? Not like, a deadly, heavy black hole, but one that’s scenic and calm... almost empty, in a sense. If the answer is yes, then the debut album from HÆLOS, Full Circle. With everything from crushing atmospheric synths to crystalline vocals, this album will give you everything you need for a beautiful sonic experience.
The absolute monster this album is can be foreshadowed by the introductory track, ‘Spectrum’, featuring a thick atmosphere and a heavy spoken word sample before kicking into the banger ‘Pray’, which begins dark and explodes into a groovy vibe that plays off the darkness. The next track, ‘Dust’, plays off of the synths by being building a wall of noise with layers of vocals and transcendental synths. Part of what makes this album so fantastic is that it’s so cohesive even while ever song is fundamentally different. After ‘Dust’ comes ‘Full Circle’, the title track; a monster track with a plethora of layers to explore and dive into. Midway through the album is the most breathtaking track on it, ‘Earth Not Above’ that redefines everything you know about atmosphere. With a stunningly beautiful piano melody only making the fantastic instrumental that much more powerful and the haunting harmonies that make up the track, it’s nothing short of a masterpiece. The beauty continues with ‘Oracle’, a beautiful track that feels so pure and crystalline, it’s like you can feel it’s smoothness while you drown in its buildup of epic proportions.
The album takes a poppy turn to conclude it, the trend beginning with ‘Separate Lives’, and becomes even bigger in the following track, ‘Sacred’. ‘Cloud Nine’ follows suit in a different way, the London trio giving minimalism a spin and this time making the vocals a more prominent part of the song - in some brilliant way, the vocals are just so much more powerful in this track, and heartbreakingly so, with the reverberating, “Why did you leave me?” repeating over somber piano chords and percussion. The album ends just as powerfully as it begun, though with a stronger disposition with ‘Pale’, which, with it’s haunting lyrics and harmonies, ends the album on a very complete way, packed with synths and a confident beat. The album ends like it’s title implies; it comes full circle within it’s unforgettable music.
HÆLOS’ debut is an enigma. It’s so beautiful and fine that you just need to keep listening again and again before you can truly say you understand it, and even without being able to fully comprehend its power, it’ll leave a lasting mark. It draws you in and leaves you wanting more, though we’ll have to wait until this trio goes back to London for their follow up. Until then, this album won’t be growing old any time soon.
Favorite Tracks: Earth Not Above, Oracle, Cloud Nine
Least Favorite Tracks: Separate Lives