Review – Halcyon Way: Building the Towers

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Review – Halcyon Way: Building the Towers
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Halcyon Way: Building the Towers
Progressive Metal
Nightmare Records
November 23rd, 2010
Release length: 59:11
Website

Halcyon Way is a Christian-themed Progressive Metal act from Atlanta, Georgia that formed back in 2001. Since then, the group has lost some members, but has remained rather solid for the time being. However, last year, the group lost vocalist Sean Shields, who helped to establish the sound of the band, and was replaced by Steve Braun, who has also put time in with the band Ashent. This new addition works well for the group’s sophomore effort, Building the Towers, but is the material on this release is actually enjoyable now with all the changes that have occured?

For the most part, Halcyon Way plays a Progressive style that is a little more uplifting, which corresponds with the Christian-themed lyrics. Of course, that’s not the case for every track, however. “Rise to Revise” kicks the album off on a darker note, with a very somber chorus that works great with the song, and isn’t quite as inspirational-feeling as many other tracks on the album. The main vocal approach is a somewhat nassaly clean singing approach, which after a while starts to become a little monotonous, but is executed well by this new vocalist. However, when it is coupled with another approach, such as gutteral vocals, like those that appear periodically through “Rise to Revise” and “Death of a Dream” to name a few. These vocals are deep, menacing, and have the right amount of bite to them, mixed with a slight squeel that gives it an extra kick, but not to the point that Deathcore bands have reached with abusing inward gutterals.

Once you hit “The Age of Betrayal”, things do start to change around a bit. This song features a different vocal approach as well, but instead of a deep gutteral, near the end of the song a stronger, deeper, commanding voice joins the higher, nasal vocal style, but the song itself sounds rather similar to material that the Gothic Rock act Entwine would do, just with a Progressive twist to it. Of course, similarities between this album and that release can be found on a few other tracks of this release as well, but this is the only one that really stands out to the point where fans of the band will easily pick up on it. The overall tone of the album, however, seems to change around “The System”, with the music being a little lighter and more inspiring then anything, leaving behind the gutteral and any form of commanding vocal approaches. These songs are just as enjoyable, however, and many will stick with you once the CD is done. “Desecration Day” is a nice, consistent song that goes as a good mid-tempo throughout, utilizing some keyboards during the chorus, which adds a little extra kick to the music. “Inside Looking Out (The Icon)” makes for a good slower paced track, utilizing background vocals nicely after the guitar solo, all of which cast a Rock feel to the album. “Icon of Resolution”, which is a strong faith-based track, also includes some female vocals in the song as background vocals, and it works well for that track too.

But, the problem is that the music on these, as well as other tracks, may be enjoy, but just isn’t anything that stands out too much. Again, the nasally vocals become a little annoying after a while, though they do work with the music. The first few tracks on Building the Towers are the ones that really show the most energy behind the band, though some latter tracks, like the title track “Building the Towers”, do have some strong musical compositions to stand out like the earlier songs do. The biggest complaint would be the lack of the dual vocals, which sound great on “Rise to Revise”, as well as “The Age of Betrayal”, and offer up a little extra to break up the monotony of the main vocal style to the album.

Of course, there are plenty of other enjoyable tracks on this release, but for the most part, the material seems to be more of a mid-tempo pace, with an uplifting message that is often complimented with an uplifting, and upbeat sound. Building the Towers makes for a good follow-up album with some strong, consistant music that works well with the vocal approaches utilized throughout. Despite the band’s strong Christian lyrics, Building the Towers should appeal to many fans of the Progressive style, though there’s just nothing all that solid that it will be a very memorable album. It is, however, a nice demonstration of the strengths this new formation has, and acts as a promise for stronger release in the future.


01. Rise to Revise – 5:40
02. Death of a Dream – 6:01
03. The Age of Betrayal – 5:13
04. The System – 5:02
05. Inversion – 5:49
06. Mouth Without a Head – 5:40
07. Desecration Day – 5:09
08. Icon of Resolution – 5:45
09. Inside Looking Out (The Icon & The Ghost) – 8:20
10. Building the Towers – 6:32
Initial Pressing Score: 6.5/10

Halcyon Way
Halcyon Way

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nightmare Records.