After years of anticipation, California based rock band Seahaven are back with their third full length album titled Halo of Hurt and it’s a spectacle to behold. Traversing through these tracks, filled with eerie, moody melodies and beautifully composed lyrics is reminiscent of driving through the woods in the dark. The only illumination comes from a single pair of headlights, fog settling in around the car and a sort of all encompassing darkness that seems at the same time both comforting and desolate.
The album is introduced with the track “Void” which starts with the sound of waves crashing on a shore, some haunting low notes, and “there’s a void” crooning from vocalist Kyle Soto. This song transitions from lullaby to “middle of the pit at a rock show” multiple times, seamlessly. It’s a stunning example of the outright, raw talent these men have. From the epic guitar solo Cody Christian busts out and Mike DeBartolo’s stunning work on the keys, to Eric Findlay’s expertly crafted drum fills, this song is a tough act to follow. But the rest of the album holds up to the expectations it sets.
“Moon” enters the picture with a lot of Arctic Monkeys vibes and I’m living for it. This song feeds the notion of making the same mistake over and over again. “Felt the heat but you didn’t learn/Play with fire, you’re bound to burn” brings about the image of someone who just wants to feel warmed by something, even if it’s going to end up hurting them in the end.
If you pulled creepy tracking sounds from a forest scene in a horror film and laced them into a badass rock song, you’d get “Dandelion.” There’s a lot of ethereal, poignant noise floating through your headphones with this track and it adds this depth and air of mystery I wasn’t expecting, but now crave. These mysterious sounds throughout the song are a reflection of the lyrics as well, which seem to tell a story of a secret. Someone keeping a secret or keeping someone a secret, either way there are a lot of smoke and mirrors happening both verbally and musically. Things seem to pop out of the darkness in one shot and then become one with that darkness in the next frame. Notes come out of nowhere and then quickly dissipate leaving you wondering if you ever really heard them in the first place.
The album title comes from a lyric in “I Don’t Belong Here.” This song seems to be about someone’s struggle internally with not wanting to cause pain to those close to you — but trying to navigate that desire when all you’ve known is pain can be a daunting task. Not wanting to shift your own agony onto another person but having no other way to express how you feel. The song itself is chaotic, moving from a flowing intro to a busy and loud climax and then seeming to shift almost to a completely different song all in the span of roughly four and a half minutes is a whirlwind to say the least. But that seems intentional. The inner workings of the mind are rarely lustrous, and the seemingly clashing movements of this song are a beautiful musical personification of that kind of thinking.
“Lose” is a beautiful song, and probably the closest thing we’ll get on this album to a ballad. I kept waiting for a breakthrough, something heavy and intense but never got it. I’m glad though, because it’s a track heavily focused on the lyrics and without that elaborate filler you’re able to really pay attention to the words.
“Heavy hearts hanging in the balance” is probably my favorite line from “Harbor.” The way this track enters with the drum clicks and exits with the hanging guitar reverb give is a classic rock song feel but everything in between is a dark twisty roller coaster ride of emotion.
“Living Hell” is full of dissonance, both in terms of lyrics and melodically. It leaves you hanging on, waiting for the resolve but you’re left wanting.
“Bait” just makes me straight up sad. There’s a lot of hurt interwoven in these lyrics. “Searching for something you’re not gonna find” really stuck out to me as this only hurts both parties. On one hand you have someone who expects so much from you, and you know you’re unable to live up to those expectations. Then on the other hand you have this deep seated belief that you’re not what this person is looking for, and won’t be no matter how hard you try.
It might be a cliche to say they saved the best for last on this album, but I’d be lying if I said that weren’t true. “Eraser” really struck a nerve for me as it came across as an eloquent way to describe feelings of depression. “Running out of air to breathe but somehow you’re still echoing” haunts me. In the midst of those dark days, you lose the things that give your life meaning, but while you slowly strip all the good parts of your life away, this mental illness clings to your very bones, echoing in the space you made for it by pushing everything else away. This track doesn’t have the extravagant, blaring breakdown exhibited on some of the other tracks, but it doesn’t need it. The lyrics are the focal point here, and this song closes out the album in the most fitting way. Leaving you waiting for some kind of resolution, wanting more.
Halo of Hurt expertly combines classic rock elements with experimental sounds like orchestral instrumentation and synthetic bits and pieces sprinkled throughout. It pieces together this entire dark, twisted dream-like realm where your fears are alive but so are you. There is so much more I could say about this expertly crafted, 9 track adventure, but it’s one best experienced for yourself. Somehow Seahaven made 40 minutes feel like living an entire lifetime. This album is a musical masterpiece, and the care and attention to every detail throughout made the years fans have been waiting more than worth it.