A Dark Halo

Catalyst

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Sounding heavily influenced by Nine Inch Nails, right down to singer David Lowmiller's taste for industrial-disco synthesizers and heavily processed vocals (not to mention atmospheric piano-based interludes, such as the 82-second breather "Formatting"), A Dark Halo don't manage to work up a Trent Reznor-style sonic maelstrom on their debut album. Indeed, what's most striking about Catalyst is how oddly polite it is. Even later in the record when Lowmiller trades the electronic effects for a more straightforward hardcore bark on the songs "Nucleus" and "Apex Realized," and then the standard Cookie Monster growl on the closing "Unbreakable," there's no sense of tension or menace in his performances or the songs themselves. Similarly, the exceedingly clean production allows none of the distortion and scurf that bleeds into the background of a vintage Skinny Puppy or Cabaret Voltaire record, almost becoming a subtle but crucial extra instrument. Without the noise and angst, Catalyst just sort of lies inert.

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