US band HALCYON WAY have been around in one form or another ever since 2001, although I’m afraid that I have to confess that I haven’t come across them until now in 2018. They are now ready with their fifth album “Bloody But Unbowed”, which has been released through Polish label Agonia Records.
One of the most surprising elements that popped up when I researched this band was that they were described in the context of being progressive metal. While this is a band that have a lot going on, what I hear displayed on this album is rather more of a no frills take on metal. Eclectic for sure, varied too, but not music I would categorize as progressive metal.
The phrase thieving magpie did come to mind as this album unfolded. Not because of all that many striking similarities to many other bands, but due to the sheer amount of details present that by accident or design have been pulled in from here and there. Hard, hammering power metal strikes me as something of a foundation throughout, but with a liberal amount of additional flavoring. Chugging riffs of the kind old school heavy metal fans will know and love and more intense riff barrages going some way towards classic era thrash metal the most common of these, and on a lesser scale staccato nu metal tinged details and industrial metal touches of the kind that reminds ever so slightly of a band like Rammstein. Furthermore, the vocals are an important aspect of the totality that further expands the canvas. While the lead vocals are fairly consistent throughout in a powerful, power metal mode of delivery, the vocal harmonies at times adds a slight touch of hair metal, occasionally cleverly offset by the use of barking, gruff vocals with more of an extreme metal feel to them.
I rather guess the progressive metal tag thrown at this band is due to the use of these elements, and possibly some additional ones I either didn’t bother to mention or that I didn’t notice. That quite a few of the songs ebb and flow in pace and intensity, as well as incorporating the occasional interludes, also adds something of a subtle progressive metal flavor to these compositions. Still, in my book this is a band more about varied and somewhat eclectic metal than a progressive variety.
As an album experience I do not see this as a truly striking one. Quite a few songs gives me the impression of being made with live performances in mind, material that will enliven and engage an audience but that doesn’t really engage on a deeper level solely as album tracks. As such, I also suspect that this is an album that may well be categorized as a grower by many fans, one of those albums that doesn’t click all the way until you have seen and heard them performed live on stage, the impressions gained from this experience giving additional associations and impressions for the listener when giving the CD a spin afterwards.
If you like your heavy metal with a fair degree of variation, but also explored and delivered in a no frills manner by a band that have been out on a few winter nights and learned from the experience, Halcyon Way is a band you probably should give a chance on occasion. This album strikes me as a good place to do just that.
My rating: 72/100
2. Bloody But Unbowed
4. Slaves to Silicon
6. Ten Thousand Ways
7. The Church of Me
8. Cast Another Stone
9. Crowned in Violence
10. Burning the Summit