November 5, 2022

Invitingly warm, intense, grungy and rugged, the Swedish indie-band Omni of Halos launch themselves into the ether as a happy burst of noisy alt-rock, based on solid guitar-driven melodies but then topped with the rich sound of pedal steel! The band hails from Gothenburg, Sweden, as a five-piece band with lo-fi garage-rock tendencies alternating with quite heavy alt-rock soundscapes – and pedal steel guitar! As they put it, they like to combine beauty and darkness. 

The self titled debut full-length album is released this month, building on the recent Care Free EP out earlier in the summer. Those four tracks are incorporated here by Lövely Records in a set of ten bittersweet, almost plaintive tracks recorded and produced by Per Stålberg from Division of Laura Lee in Welfare Studios. Offering an unusual blend of fuzzy rhythms, and rich pedal steel guitar melodies, the album Omni of Halos is one of a kind, while still communicating a sound firmly rooted in the soundscapes of the Alternative ’80s and ’90s. The album was mixed by John Agnello, known for his work with Dinosaur JR, Sonic Youth, and Kurt Vile, to name a few. The artwork for the album is made by Sebastian Murphy from Viagra Boys.  

The new, improved, Omni of Halos!

Starting out as a solo project of guitarist/singer Henrik Hjelt Röstberg, Omni of Halos was formed in late 2020 and shortly after their formation they entered Welfare Sounds Studio with Per Stålberg (Division of Laura Lee, Pablo Matisse, etc.). Equipped with a stack of riffs and a desire to explore what the studio surroundings would provide them as a recording unit, they came away from this first session having captured experimental and vibrant music that inspired them to continue down the same path.

In quick succession Omni of Halos found their sound, weaving blasting guitars with distinct, unorthodox pedal steel guitar melodies. A sound that producer and engineer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Kurt Vile) further enhanced when he took on the opportunity to put the final touches on the recordings by mixing all ten tracks at his studio in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Since the EP, the band has expanded into a six-some, now featuring Henrik on vocals, guitars, and Moog; Gabriel Unsgaard on guitars and vocals; Kyle Pitcher on bass; Markkuu Mulari on drums, Johan Winther on guitars; and last but certainly not least – their secret weapon Daniel Levin on pedal steel guitar!

The opening track is You Suck, the title and lyrics giving a strong clue as to where these guys are coming from. It’s good fun, hypnotically grungy stuff, with more than a hint of Blur, and perhaps a touch of Hawkwind? The pedal steel is right up there, and it works! – while the band is laying down a solid grunge platform of rhythm and noise, the pedal steel floats above it all to provide real melody. As a further twist, in the video available on YouTube Henrik looks and sounds uncannily like Roy Wood in his The Move days!

Birds Follow My Path, and even more so Care Free, have a heavy feel of early Hawkwind about them. The former is a perfectly lovely little number, the combination of tuneful vocal lines blended with the barrage of guitars hits the spot for me! There’s definitely a fuller, fatter sound to the band in their current form, all the better for it. Darkest Hour, Final Hour continues that melodic grungy feel, although this one does feel a little muddy production-wise, as does Empty Shell. Although I’m the first to love and respect garage-rock, I just think the band and the songs are better than they currently sound on here? I can imagine that live, they could be either gob-smackingly brilliant or cringingly, hopelessly murky…. that might be their trademark bash but it aint easy on yer fans’ lugs…

There’s still some great interplay between the phalanx of guitars and pedal steel though. No Sleep is stronger, a darker song that still features lots of melodies. It was my personal favourite from the EP and it showcases the better angles of this album as a whole. Crumbling To Pieces and Hand in Hand are also decent melodies that don’t get submerged in the heavyweight background, and In The Mud continues in the same vein. Vocals are quite limited in range, that’s the area they need to think about if they want to break out of the garage?

But still good fun!