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Halcyon Way - "IndoctriNation" (CD)

Halcyon Way - "IndoctriNation" CD cover image

"IndoctriNation" track listing:

1. On Black Wings
2. Our Finest Hour
3. IndoctriNation
4. Revolution Is Now
5. The Wages Of War
6. Stand Up
7. The Age Of Betrayal (radio edit)
8. The System (karbonBlack RMX)

Reviewed by on October 25, 2011

"'A brisk and bracing listen for any metal or hard rock fan with a functioning brain.'"

Boy, do I love America. While our irritating tendency to spawn “McTrends” within the metal genre can’t be denied, there remain countless wells of talent across this vast land of ours, and from them, an inexhaustible supply of amazing bands. It just depends where and how hard you look, and if you choose to spend your time moaning incessantly about the popularity of the latest Avenged Sevenfold clone, you’ll completely bypass thrilling acts like Atlanta’s Halcyon Way.

Straddling an invisible line between a long EP and a short LP, the band’s third effort, “Indoctrination,” is a brisk and bracing listen for any metal or hard rock fan with a functioning brain. The disc’s five new and original songs span a balanced, complementary plethora of styles, including groove, death, power, progressive, and traditional metal, and are entirely sound pieces of work – both as individual cuts and as a collective. The multitude of influences works highly in the album’s favor, and it never comes off as overly ambitious wankery. These guys are ace songwriters, not guitar workshop instructors.

Of course, the dead giveaway of an ace songwriter is the listener’s compelling urge to allow the CD to start over from the beginning after the first spin. Opener “On Black Wings” confounds expectations by teasing us with a muted, hissy sampling of the soaring chorus to come – followed by an explosion of grinding chug, complete with death growls. This section seamlessly gives way to a melodic and delicious lead riff, which steers the song into its galloping mid-paced groove. The rest of the rather brief album follows suit, as the adventurous – yet restrained and precise – guitar work swirls in a melodic vortex around a pulsing, rock-solid rhythmic core. Woven into the very DNA of these songs are the heroic vocals of frontman Steve Braun, who spends much of his time delivering irresistible melodic verses and harmonized choruses in the vein of Into Eternity. In fact, Halcyon Way tends to resemble a straightforward, less technical version of the acclaimed Canadian band, if only for Braun’s similarity to their signature multilayered vocal approach. And man, is it catchy – even without the entertaining cover of the Sammy Hagar-penned “Stand Up," performed in the film “Rock Star” by the fictional Steel Dragon.

Perhaps what impresses most about Halcyon Way is the simple honesty of their music. It’s skillful without being pretentious, earnest without being heavy-handed. It echoes numerous subgenres while defying classification in a particular one. It’s just plain heavy metal music, and whether you’re partial to Into Eternity, Pantera, Evergrey, or Judas Priest, you’ll find something to embrace.

Highs: Steve Braun is one of the best American metal vocalists you've never heard of - yet.

Lows: Too short! It's a tease.

Bottom line: Neither strictly groove, nor death, nor power, nor progressive, nor traditional - just plain METAL to the hilt.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)