For all intents and purposes, How The Darkness Doubled is the true follow-up to The Black Halos' classic 2001 release The Violent Years. Technically there have been a couple albums in between. But How The Darkness Doubled (out now on Stomp Records) finally reunites lead singer Billy Hopeless with original members Rich Jones and Jay Millette — using the album title that was originally planned for a third Black Halos album a couple decades ago. And while it's a music reviewer cliché to talk about "returns to form," there's just no denying that this album is a 100% triumphant return to form. The OG Halos, joined by new members John Kerns (The Age Of Electric) and Danni Action (ACIIDZ), have picked up where they left off 20+ years ago. How The Darkness Doubled is vintage Black Halos in every sense — an ass-kicking set of glam punk rock and roll rippers with hooks for days.
The passing of time has only added more layers of grit to Billy Hopeless's signature vocal rasp. When that voice intersects with those melodic guitars and Jones' tuneful songs, it's an awesome thing to behold. The band sounds energized and inspired across these 12 tracks — very few of which fail to get me thrusting my fist in the air and shouting along to the choruses. Few bands can pull off that "rock" side of '70s glam & punk like The Black Halos, and opening cut "A History of Violence" quickly affirms that these guys have still got it. That hook has been lodged in my skull for the past week! Whether you're craving big choruses ("Tenement Kids"), scorching rockers ("Uncommonwealth"), soaring anthems ("Better Days"), or pure punk rock adrenaline ("A Positive Note"), this album has got you covered. With lyrics grounded in life's harsh realities and bitter disappointments, these songs really benefit from the time that has passed since these guys last made a record together. "Better Days" offers solid life advice about never looking back. "All My Friends Are Like Drugs" is insightful and relatable. Originally released as a single two years ago, "Ain't No Good Time to Say Goodbye" is a powerful tribute to the late Chi Pig and one of the most profound songs about grief that you'll ever hear.
Mixed by Dave Draper (The Wildhearts, The Professionals), How The Darkness Doubled sounds like a million bucks with its huge guitars and slick backing vocals. I'm not saying that I have lo-fi fatigue, but it's kind of nice to hear a punk rock band that's not afraid to rock. And with songs this good, who wouldn't want to sound massive? As the spiritual successor to The Violent Years, this album is everything you hoped for and then some. Longtime fans will not be disappointed. And even if you have never heard the band's first two albums, How The Darkness Doubled will make you want to. At a time when reboots and revivals almost always leave us wanting, The Black Halos are here to remind us that it doesn't have to be that way.
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