It took me awhile to “get” the Black Halos. The lead singer, at first, sounds almost like a cartoon character with laryngitis. They definitely fit the Johnny Thunders, near-dead, spike-in-vein, blackened lips and eyes, pale-faced aesthetic. All fine and well, but the fact that they released the underrated and barely heralded magnum opus, The Violent Years, four years ago ratcheted them up several notches. The Violent Years sound like Thunders, except with compassion for a struggling culture beyond his own devices. Alive Without Control is excellent: catchy, swaggering, and confident, and although I like gems on it like “Darkest Corners,” I find myself reaching back and playing The Violent Years louder and louder. With that record, there just seems to be more lurking behind them all, like a feeling of being hunted. Who knows? It took me a good year to fully embrace the previous album. Maybe it’ll take some more time drinking with this one to take full hold. I’m patient.
–todd (Liquor and Poker)