I consider Jesper Strömblad to be one of the most important musicians in the wider Swedish metal scene. A founding member of In Flames, Dimension Zero, Ceremonial Oath and HammerFall among others, I expected him to form a melodic death metal act after leaving In Flames because Cyhra and the (now disbanded) The Resistance move on different musical paths. And he did so in the best way possible when the founding of The Halo Effect was announced.
The reason? The entire band consists of five former members of In Flames! So, in the line-up we see Strömblad (1990-2010) together with Niclas Engelin (1997-1998, 2011-2021) on guitars, Peter Iwers (1997-2016) on bass, Daniel Svensson (1998-2015) on drums and Mikael Stanne of Dark Tranquillity on the vocals that probably few remember that he had sung on the demo and the historic debut “Lunar Strain” (1994) although he was considered as a guest and not a permanent member.
The result is an amazing melodic death metal album of the Swedish school that will hardly leave fans of the genre apathetic. It may of course remind us of (old) In Flames and Dark Tranquility but personally I don’t think it copies any of those bands. Similarities are absolutely logical and normal to exist (they just can’t reinvent the genre in 2022), but as I see it, The Halo Effect manage to produce music that has to give something new to this sound and not rehash old ideas.
Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, with excellent riffs and melodies and of course the always flawless growls of Stanne who on two occasions also uses his wonderful clear ones (“In Broken Trust”, “A Truth Worth Fighting For”) while there is also a guest appearance by Trivium’s Matt Heafy on “Last Of Our Kind”. The production is perfect and the record has no weak moments in its forty-minute duration, making the listening flow so enjoyable that I personally have been listening to it at least one or two times per day since its release.
So, unlike In Flames who for years have been producing dumb-pop plastic music with taste of a stale bubblegum, The Halo Effect shows how the game is played. Let’s not forget that Strömblad played a big part in the development and establishment of the melodic death metal sound. If you throw Stanne into the equation, the expectations were already huge before we heard a note from them and I think they were fully justified. “Days Of The Lost” is definitely in the top five releases I’ve heard this year, regardless of music genre. I hope to see them on stage at some point.