CD Review of Burn Halo by Burn Halo
Burn Halo: Burn Halo
Recommended if you like
Stone Temple Pilots, Buckcherry, Hinder
Label
Rawkhead ReKords
Burn Halo: Burn Halo

Reviewed by Carlos Ramirez

S
ome call it "cock rock," while there are those who dismissively refer to the genre as "red-state rock," but any way you look at it, Burn Halo play it. Vocalist James Hart’s last band, Eighteen Visions, started out as a metal-infused hardcore act, and by the time they ended their run, they sounded more like Stone Temple Pilots than, say, Converge. Burn Halo picks up right where Eighteen Visions left off.

Guitars are stacked on top of each other and the bass drum is high in the mix, but Hart’s snotty vocals are front and center. This is Hart’s show, and nothing’s getting in the way of that. But that’s one of the problems here – instead of giving the arrangements in songs like "Back to the Start" some breathing room, the frontman elects to sing all over most of the cut, ultimately suffocating it. In Joey Cunha, Burn Halo have one of the most exciting lead guitarists playing this kind of thing, and hopefully next time out Hart gives him a little more room to strut his stuff.

But the vocalist redeems himself with the long list of hooks found on the album. It’s hard to imagine Active Rock radio programmers ignoring soon-to-be strip club anthems like "Save Me" and "Dirty Little Girl" this year. Island Records signed – and then dropped – these guys in 2008, but the latter song might be this year’s "Crazy Bitch." (If you don’t know what I’m referring to, the suits at DreamWorks Records dropped the similar-sounding Buckcherry, but when the group went the indie route and scored one of the biggest rock downloads of the last few years with the aforementioned single, they were quickly courted by the same labels who had once spurned them – and signed a lucrative deal with Atlantic Records.)

Burn Halo

"Dirty Little Girl" is the sort of song a band playing this style needs in its arsenal: the guitar riff sounds like it was lifted off The Cult’s Electric, while the chorus gives way to an arena-ready vocal melody. Is it fancy and filled with subtle nuances? Definitely not, but were you really expecting that from a band like this?

Burn Halo take things down a few notches in the distortion and volume departments for the power ballad "Too Late to Tell You Now," proving their radio crossover potential, but it’s their punchier moments that win out here. Burn Halo aren’t going to pick up any cred points from the cool kids anytime soon, but they do what they do really well.

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