The Sky’s the Limit for Haliwel
From their humble beginnings in 2013 to their recent signing onto Quarter Mile Entertainment/Records and 3Thirteen Entertainment Group/eOne Music, Haliwel has been on an upward trajectory and has shown no signs of stopping. At their best, the 5 man Wisconsin-based band has a hard hitting instrumental core with a strong, dynamic vocal to keep its tracks feeling varied.
Haliwel’s first album, From the Inside, has a far more abrasive vocal from Dax Roberts when compared to the later release. With the occasional primal roar bringing a spark to the project, the vocals are the undeniable focal point of the band’s early work. While Roberts’ vocals are raspy and commanding, the instrumental performances are far more subtle and clean in their delivery. That being said, they never fail to pack their desired punch, and the simplistic instrumental play style hides deceptively complex melodies. Track 2, “Hide” demonstrates each of these core fundamentals at their peak, with the powerful vocals leading the emotionally charged guitar performances from Jake Smith and Shawn Streeter.
From the changes in core vocal components to the shift in focus to a grittier instrumental sound, the differences between the Haliwel’s first two albums are abundant, yet welcome. Above all else, the substantial change of sound in 2016’s Pandemic indicates a more solidified image for what Haliwel wants to achieve with their music. For starters, the vocal performance is now clean cut rather than raspy and ragged. Track 8, “Falling” is a giant middle finger to all of those who claim that rock roarers and metal screamers can’t sing; the vocal range that Roberts demonstrates on this track is awe inspiring. The most influential change that results from Roberts’ shifting vocal style is his drastic improvement in enunciation. This leads to a demonstration of the band’s vast potential for lyrical craftsmanship, as the messages in their tracks hit as hard as their accompanying instruments.
Speaking of accompanying instrumentation, the musical focal point drastically shifts in Pandemic, resulting in the guitar and drums meeting the vocals at centre stage in order to make the headbaging quality of the riffs sky rocket. Dax Robert’s vocals are still a key component to the sound, but everything seems to come together far more cohesively in Haliwel’s latest work. The final product sounds like a blend between Thousand Foot Crutch and A Perfect Circle, with clear vocals that are complemented by complex melodies. Track 11, “The Theme” is possibly the best example of this comparison, as it shows off the lower register of the Robert’s range, and works off of the catchy riffs that are supplied by the guitar and bass. Shawn Streeter reveals a brief solo in the track that shows his potential to add an additional asset to the music, and I only wish that I could have seen more of it throughout the album.
The constantly evolving Haliwel gives listeners incentive to listen to their latest work by showing an improvement to their own understanding of their various strengths. Checking Haliwel out is well within your best interest if the hard rock genre entices you; their successful track record thus far and infinite potential are ample reason to give their work a listen.