Album Review – Strap On Halo – Prayers for the Living (2016)

Availability: Bandcamp, Reverb Nation and YouTube

www.straponhalo.com

Prayers for the Living is a compilation album, filled with tracks located on separated extended plays The Dead Don’t Lie (2011) and Haunted (2014), as well as new tracks. This is the first full album of 2016, becoming available in January. This preceded the release of the extended play Altars of Interim that came out last month in August.

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Call for the Rain opens with a Native American chant, that of the ritual of Rainmaking; historically first observed in the Zuni tribe, by Julia Butree, wife of Ernest Thompson Seton, then changes direction to take a post-punk/gothic rock sound to modernize the spiritual ritual, to try and cleanse away a darkened past. Chameleon invokes darkwave; post-punk and dark alternative to describe an ever changing and adapting individual, and the consequences of their unpredictable nature, for it is destructive.

Until the Break has mild influences of Bauhaus, and She Past Away, for its usage of cold-wave and post-punk to emphasis the narrative of internal torture, with the protagonist closely hinting to sadomasochism used in nunneries and by monks of the Catholic church, in the hopes of becoming closer to God. Monsters takes the shape of both second and third generation goth rock, manipulating the sounds of Skeletal Key, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Imaginary Walls and the contemporary Snakedance to create a distorted, psychologically terrifying tale of humanity’s darkened nature.

Devil’s Dance
instrumentally and lyrically personifies post-punk and early goth rock for the mysterious eeriness, again appropriating the sound ofBauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and also Italian goth rock group The Spiritual Bat (formerly known as Spiritual Bats), and paying homage to the vocalist Rosetta Garri. Hunger combines Goth rock, and darkwave to create to exotic and erotic, melodic track speaking of lustful greed, that of Vampiric nature; as the song draws many elements of ancient Vampiric mythology. To stress this, Strap on Halo use inspiration from Sisters of Mercy, and Dead Can Dance, specifically from their debut album Dead Can Dance (1984), which unified goth rock, darkwave and neoclassical together.

Desert Frost combines post-punk, goth rock and world music (particularly inspired by Middle Eastern music), to encompass the feeling of being within the rich, historical culture of the ancient Egyptians, or Mesopotamia. This complex sound bears a resemblance to goth tracks such as Cities of Dust,Israel, and Temple of Love; as well as darkwave/neoclassical classicsSong of the Nile by Dead Can Dance. Lenore steps back in time to the early foundations of goth rock, filled with paranoid sounds of post-punk, whilst carrying the spirit of later generations, for the inclusion of darkwave and drone. Instrumentally and conceptually, Lenore once more couriers the works of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and this Rhea’s Obsession andGhost Dance, whereas there are moments where you can hear inspiration from their modern day peers Solemn Novena, The Silence Industry, andHatesex. The narrative is inspired by Lenore, a poem written by Edgar Allen Poe in 1883, with the poem itself being partially inspired by the lost Biblical scriptures featuring the female bodied angelic entity, Lenore.

Little White Lies is a slow, toe curling track filled with notes of goth rock, ethereal wave for Layla Renya’s operatic, spiritual vocals and vaudeville. The subdued darkness of the lyrics about inner turmoil is near analogous to the works of dark pop/vaudeville act IAMX, who used similar notations in tracks My Secret Friend, Imaginary Beings, and Bernadette. Prayers for the Living once more has a dark undertone, using goth rock and cold-wave, talking of the reality of how many people choose to exist rather than live; on top of allowing our lives to become a misery, and as a consequence our souls die.

When They Come for You is the last track of the compilation album and for the final time exemplifies classic post-punk/goth rock bands Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Skeletal Key to entail what feels like a part of a trilogy.Monsters, Lenore and When They Come for You all have a similar tempo, as if not obvious by the theme of the album title, features that of Biblical mythology; so overall, these three songs transform into a song of mortal struggle and the hope of redemption.

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Written for Relive the Music
http://www.relivethemusic.net

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