Influences: HAAL

Photo Credit: Jess Agnew

On their debut EP, ‘Back To Shilmarine’, emerging Bristol group HAAL demonstrate an off-kilter mix of post-rock, trip-hop, and industrial music. It results in an intriguing collection of songs that border on experimentation, through the use of spoken word musings (as heard on ‘Vinculum’), samples, and effects pedals (see ‘Platform 1, 18:19’). On top of that, vocalist/guitarist Alfie Hay covers themes such as transhumanism, cosmic existentialism, absurdism, meaning, inner reflection, science, history, and general philosophy, making ‘Back To Shilmarine’ even more magnetic.

Besides their angular intricacies, HAAL aren’t afraid to let loose. ‘Vinculum’ erupts with steely blasts. ‘Platform 1, 18:19’ sees Hay’s distant screams complementing a wall of distortion. Whereas ‘To Be A Machine’ soothingly broods with sci-fi-like synths before crash landing with big, striking guitars.

With such a beguiling range of sounds and textures, it seemed ideal to ask Alfie Hay from HAAL to highlight seven albums that have shaped their sound.

Biffy Clyro – Blackened Sky

They are absolute masters of tension and release, with possibly my favourite ever guitar tone on an album. It was also one of the first records I discovered on my own too when I was about 14, so it holds a special place in my musical journey. ‘Time As An Imploding Unit/Waiting For Green’ might be one of my all-time favourite songs.

Massive Attack – Mezzanine

This is sonic proof that music doesn’t have to have proper chuggy riffs and breakdowns to constitute it being “heavy”. I felt this album best encapsulates heaviness with its mood and atmosphere through its use of synths and sampling. The breakdown in ‘Risingson’ has to be one of the best ever things to happen.

Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile

Another example of not necessarily being guitar heavy, but an album that achieves it sonically through its genius utilisation of ambience and atmosphere. I wanted to emulate how he approaches concept records too, especially with how each each song interacts with each other as it goes on.

Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine

This is the best album ever made I reckon. I did my Year 6 Music Research project on it whilst everyone else did Basshunter. Remember shitting my pants trying to find one tune in which the lyrics didn’t have a swear word to highlight – I went with ‘Wake Up’ in the end which only has one “Shit”!

Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf

I love how they can write heavier riffs, but still create catchy melodies that serve the songs. Josh Homme’s guitar playing too is a big influence, particularly with how he plays with his own unique made-up tunings and his Polska guitar background.

The Mars Volta – DeLoused In The Comatorium

I loved how they re-interpreted jazz and fusion to an almost metal context. The way they craft and hone chaos into melody on this record was a big influence on my guitar playing and our EP as a whole.

Slint – Spiderland

I was very late to this album, having written most of the EP before I came across it. But reading into the influence this album had on many of the other bands in this list (early Biffy Clyro notably), it makes a lot of sense! Your band’s favourite band etc.

‘Back To Shilmarine’ by HAAL is released on 10th May on Babka Records.

Find HALL on:  Facebook | X (Formerly Twitter) | Instagram | Bandcamp



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