I have to admit that I have been somewhat out of touch with what Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Halo of Flies Records has been up to. That's no one's fault but my own - it's been a very strong label for years, releasing dozens of records that I love, own, and listen to frequently. But for whatever reason, I stopped paying close attention. We could chock that up to the fact that there is so much great music out there to keep up with, but let's just make it easy and say that I'm a dick.
Looking back at and listening to some of the label's more recent releases, I feel awfully ashamed, because FUCK there's some really good shit in there. I distinctly remember that Svalbard LP, One Day All This Will End getting quite a bit of talk, and for good reason. Awesome fucking record, melding a variety of different styles. That's something that most Halo of Flies releases do, and do really, really well. There are few records on the label that present one style or sound. There's a lot of hardcore going on, but there's also doom, sludge, black metal, post-rock, screamo, crust and lots of other sounds happening on these records.
In the last couple of days, I've spent a good deal of time getting acquainted with these little gems above. Actually, that Anopheli record (the one in the middle) is something I've been listening to for a while. Unbelievably good, that one. The gorgeous cellos and the harshness of the guitars and vocals come together to create an otherworldly sound of melancholic rage. The Ache of Want is perhaps best characterized as a majestic disturbance, and I could not love it more. Sounds perfect just about all the damn time. I honestly didn't expect to get into either of the two other records pictured above. Despite the killer artwork on the Totem Skin Weltschmerz LP, I expected the sound to be... just not in my wheelhouse. I couldn't have been more wrong. The carefully crafted atmosphere on that record is incredible. Raw and punishing and beautifully cathartic. The Gattaca LP is a diamond in the rough as well. I haven't heard much said about it, and that's a crime, because it shreds. Political hardcore with a epic edge, this record paints a picture of a world gone terribly wrong. Absolutely amazing.
And last but not least are two records that are very close now to being released. Rorcal's Creon (left) is a concept album centered around the deaths of 4 figures from Greek history/mythology, all of which are linked to the central and title character Creon. 4 tracks in 50 minutes of amazing music, this one is presented as a double LP and for me is already on the shortlist for record of the year (yeah, I know I didn't do one for 2015 - fuckin sue me already) and may end up being the greatest record that Halo of Flies has released to date. It hits me on so many levels that I can't get enough of it. The split between Oakland's Abstracter and Canada's Dark Circles is a surprise hit as well. I admit that I didn't get into Abstracter's previous material, but listening to them now I can't quite understand why. Terrific band that writes great songs and has the heavy-meter turned up all the way. This is my first exposure to Dark Circles but I really like what I hear from them on this split. Killer hardcore that sounds really good next to the slower Abstracter stuff.
So don't be a dick, like me. Get caught up. Check these and all the other bands out on the Halo of Flies Bandcamp page (most of the bands also have their own bandcamp pages). Then go to Halo of Flies and buy these records - because you know you want to, because they rule, and because Cory is a pretty swell guy, too. To this day, one of the most memorable performances from the first Gilead Fest was that of Cory's band Protestant, who were tight as fuck that day. Holy shit...