Halcyon Way – Conquer
Halcyon Way – Conquer (2014)
Reviewed by Christopher Foley
Okay, I’ve got to be honest straight off the bat. This isn’t my cup of tea, and outside of this review, it’s music I wouldn’t listen to on my own time. I’d actually go as far as to say that, for an act billed as progressive metal, Halcyon Way pushes the kind of musical elements which sent me into the underground in the first place. Think 2001, think down-tuned chugging/grooving riffs, and think painful aggressive vocals. Of course, this is mixed in with vanilla modern progressive/heavy metal along the lines of Darkology, Illusion Suite, or Outworld, which is why I’m looking into the album today.
Factoring out any sort of personal gripe, this isn’t exactly bad music. The modern style of groove metal incorporated here is well done considering the style, utilizing all the tricks in the book from production to performance and mixing in the more melodic side that gives Halcyon Way its identity, and I guess earns the band its “progressive” label; strictly in the sense of weaving together differing styles and pushing forward to create something of its own.
However, as a fan of straight cut progressive power metal acts – or melodic prog, if you like that label – I can’t really stomach this for too long at all. Songs like “Home”, the insipid “Conceived In Torment”, or the god-awful “Save Your Tears” fail to strike any kind of a chord with their cheap aggression and trite melodic development. More than a few times here I suffer from nu-metal flashbacks, although at others they can approach death metal levels, which is a bit more my speed. I think that Halcyon Way walks a dangerous line in its particular blending of styles, but then again, I know this type of music will be right up the street for many.
There are a few songs I like, particularly around the middle of the work. “Militant” and “Hatred Is My Cause” stand out the most, as they pull out more memorable motifs than the others. The chorus of “Militant” in particular, whilst lacking creativity in terms of vocal lines, is supported by one of the album’s most novel and enjoyable musical backdrops. “Hatred Is My Cause” kind of reminds me of DivineFire, and I think Steve Braun would be a great singer for any of the acts within that particular scene.
On the whole however, Conquer really isn’t for me, nor most in the prog/power scene. It’s well performed, produced, and the songs are strong enough to boast considerable appeal to those who enjoy the overt modern, heavy psuedo-aggressive approach mixed in with melodic choruses. The appeal might cross over for fans of the more pristine melodic death metal acts too. You know – super slick, modern, In Flames-type stuff and so forth. Hell, the appeal could spill over into the metalcore crowd more easily than anything, although it’s maybe not “tough guy” enough. All I know is I’m done with this one.
2.5 // 5