Album Review: Kris Barras Band – Halo Effect

I just had one of those “I’m off to a gig on Wednesday, I wonder if the band have anything new out?” moments. And realised that Kris Barras and the lads’ new album dropped… today. Oops. So in the spirit of a) making sure I know some new stuff for the gig, and b) ensuring you lot know if it’s any good or not… here is a very rushed near-first listen review of Halo Effect. An album I had actually been looking forward to since seeing Kris just the one time, supporting Black Stone Cherry just as lockdown was easing. Barras at the Barras, indeed (locals will understand!).

I even remember at the time telling David, “I’d watch a full headline show from those guys.” Well, this week I get the chance to do just that as they hit The Garage with another favourite, South of Salem, in tow. Prior to that, though… what’s the skinny with Halo Effect?

Amusingly, the album title refers to cognitive bias – the phenomenon where you make an impression of something based on previous evidence, not necessarily what’s in front of you right now. Where you make up your mind about something or someone before an actual encounter. Arguably that was my runup, having seen that one – very favourable – performance. So I’m expecting good things. Thankfully, I get them.

“Hourglass” is a decent start, but “Unbreakable” rocks just that bit harder and ups the ante. Both are decent tracks, and back up the bumph that comes with the album stating that Barras and co follow in the footsteps of “Architects, Shinedown, and Alter Bridge”. I don’t know the first, don’t think KBB quite have the technical edge of Alter Bridge… but yeah, there’s definitely an aroma of Shinedown about them. It’s little things like the vocal effects in “With You”, and the changes of pace… and then the track soars a bit and, OK yeah, Kennedy and Tremonti do come to mind. The end of the song, though? I actually thought my lovely new headphones has packed in!

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“Savages” isn’t an Ice Nine Kills cover (oh, man, though I reckon they could have a stab – ahem – at that one), being a little slower and more Theory of a Deadman-ish. One of the album highlights, “Secrets” is buried in the second half, but is well worth the wait. Is this one a single with a video? If it’s not then it should be. It leads us into “Landslide” which is about as close to a ballad as Halo Effect” contains, and this in turn takes us into “Fear Of Letting Go” which is like getting hit by a brick with “this song was written in the 1980s” written all over it.

An “Apocalypse” is as good a way to end an album as anything (or start a TV show… anyone else watching Fallout?), and this is another belter.

The thing you do notice as you work through the album is that Barras isn’t afraid to mix it up a bit. A song will start slow, then turn out to be a thumper. Another will race out of the traps, then end up an emotive singalong. Despite this, nothing jars or feels cobbled together. The musicianship is superb from all three string twangers, and the tub thumper, and the production makes those drums pound. Having heard the band live, I have no concerns about them being able to move the sound the studio to stage.

Is Halo Effect on a par with the big names mentioned back in paragraph four? Oof. Tough call. Maybe not quite, but I think that’s more to do with the fact that this sounds like Kris Barras Band. It’s not them trying to be, say, Shinedown. And I bloody love Shinedown. It’s comparing pineapples and mangos, they’re both good but not quite the same. So putting the two into the same arena only results in one champion. However, letting Barras and his companions continue to forge their own sound and you have an act who, if not playing with the big boys yet… damn well soon will be.

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Halo Effect is out now

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Jez
Jez
April 13, 2024 2:10 PM

Had similar feelings to you having seen him open for Fozzy at the Kentish Town forum last August. I pre-ordered and watched an acoustic set at Vinilo in Southampton and he launched straight into Landslide….big tune, no bum notes unsurprisingly. I think the album is a cracking listen with big choruses and an ear for melody. See where it lands next Thursday – reckon chart position means a great deal this time round. All the best