Stream: Hällas – “Excerpts From A Future Past”
A marvellous prog-rock adventure awaits…
Upon seeing this stream request pop up in the inbox quagmire, I took a cursory listen and thought this invitingly warm mix of jovial 70’s prog and spacey pseudo-psych would appeal to one of our resident Dad rockers. A quick look through our ranks revealed a startling fact to which I had perhaps been wilfully ignorant of – sometime during the past year, I had become the TovH’s dadliest Dad. Rather than fight the inevitable, I donned a pair of plain white sneakers and some aggressively comfortable jeans, tucked in my bootleg Metallica t-shirt until the tour-dates were no longer visible and poured up a big refreshing cup of pre-chilled Tap Water™ – it was time to get those dang kids off the fucking lawn. The soundtrack to today’s eviction? Hällas‘ debut album Excerpts Of A Future Past.
The Swedish quintet has adopted the progressive sound from their EP and taken it a step further, calling their genre “adventure rock”. Excerpts From A Future Past is a concept album that contains seven storytelling tracks about seers, a knight on a quest for answers and the fall of a once great city.
If the above quote from the band’s EPK grabbed your balls and told you to cough, or the retro-rock infused sounds of fellow Swedes Horisont or Graveyard has ever tickled your prostate, then this album is gonna polish your car, sort the recycling, take your shoes off and get you to off to bed at a reasonable hour. Hit play and let the waves of looping riffs, fantastic harmonies, and conceptual dorkery take you away from the modern world.
As you’ll no doubt notice, these dudes know how to write riffs just begging for harmonisation. Something they are not shy to indulge in, at any and every possible moment. These layered harmonies are often emphasised and punctuated by the omnipresent
keytar/ organ/synth, which gradually makes its way to the forefront of the mix as the songs progress. Fans of the guitar/key interplay Deep Purple were renown for will be pleased to hear that there are Jon Lord-esque moments scattered throughout this spritely debut. “Nebulon’s Tower” acts as a nice bridge between the album’s rocking introductory stanza and its storied ascent to the heavens. Spirited guitar licks are harmonised at almost every opportunity, clicking their heels as they climb the weathered old path to prog glory.
“Star Rider” has an almost Pink Floydian intro, which cedes to a soothing and catchy swing that will have you drifting off to dreamland faster than a Guardians Of The Galaxy title sequence. If this song is a little too light and breezy for you, don’t fret, things get a little less FM radio-centric from here. “Shadow Of The Templar” is perhaps the most metal-skewed of the tracks, with its bolder riffs offering nods to proto-metal/NWOBHM. The last half of the track in particular takes on a darker mood, with some more minor-key note choices creeping in, casting bands of shade over what would otherwise be a bright clean guitar section. “Illusion Sky” is the graceful sunset the album deserves. Flowing vocal-free for the most part, you’re left to watch the last streams of light beam across the landscape from the vantage point the previous 45 minutes have taken you atop.