The record is heralded by the lead single, Earth Exit Bloom, and it’s exactly what you would expect, sporting a grand, infectious caliber. They follow that same standard with Always The Last To Know, which is chock full of snazzy riffs; a cornerstone of Halo Tora material.
The guys offer something fresh with Fractured, a low-key tune with a mixture of minimal chords, mature lyrics and a very fine vocal performance; the undisputed highlight of the batch. Unthank starts in a similar vein, before exploding at the two minute mark and emerging as an imposing force of a track, where the guitars just excel and the pace suddenly quickens as they charge towards the finish.
Heart Of War sticks more to the status quo, but that’s not necessarily a negative, as we get an effective combination of pianos, bass lines and drumming, and the dual harmonies are certainly on point. The climatic title number is another different contribution, with a straight forward style featuring spoken word as opposed to singing, and the writing is allowed to take over and pull in the listener right up until the end.
As the successor to what we regarded as the best Scottish album of 2015, Man Of Stone: First Chapter delivers considerably. Each song has their own distinct merits to remember them by, and the interesting direction they have taken in particular ones has showcased the evolution of the group’s craft.
This record is just another reason as to why Halo Tora are one of Scotland’s most distinguished progressive rock acts.