IndoctriNation features material that was written during studio sessions for their last album, 2010’s Building the Towers. It’s a continuation of their catchy melodies, choruses, huge vocal harmonies, thundering rhythm section and intricate guitar work.
There are obvious progressive metal influences such as Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Queensrÿche, yet Bay Area thrash influences such as Exodus and Testament are represented as well. Halcyon Way adds their own metal flavor to both genres and mixes it up well. The use of their influences really gives the songs character and an interesting dynamic.
New vocalist Steve Braun is classically trained and has a good singing range. Ex-vocalist Sean Shields had more grittier and raspier elements to his voice, where Braun’s vocals elevates Halcyon Way’s approach to the progressive metal genre that much more.
CD opener “On Black Wings” has some harsh-growls from bassist Kris Maltenieks that compliment Braun’s higher-register vocals and gives it an aggressive edge, yet retains the right amount of melody.
“Stand Up” is a cover of Steel Dragon. Yes, THAT Steel Dragon. Anyone who’s a fan of the Mark Wahlberg movie Rockstar will certainly recognize this Sammy Hagar-penned song from the fictitious movie band featuring Jeff Scott Soto on vocals and Zakk Wylde on guitar. Braun pulls off Soto’s vocal stylings well, making it a cool version and a great addition to the album.
However, Halcyon Way totally destroy any respect they might have had by doing a remix of the “The System” from Building the Towers with guitarist Jon Bodan’s industrial/electronica side project KarbonBlack. If you’re a true metalhead, your finger can’t hit the skip button fast enough. There’s just no reasonable explanation for this version to be included on this release.
Halcyon Way has forged their way into the hearts of progressive metal fans in a short span of time. They have been on a steady, upward climb since their 2008 debut and with IndoctriNation, it should only further their place in the prog metal genre.
(released October 25, 2011 on Nightmare Records)