Halo Blind: Occupying Forces

The York band’s second album is a triumphant trip to the dark side.

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What makes York such fertile ground for prog? They gave us Mostly Autumn, Heather Findlay, and now Halo Blind. Three years on from lauded debut The Fabric they’re back, and it was well worth the wait. Occupying Forces is no mere progression, it’s a daring revolution. Their debut was pure alt-rock beauty, but this is bleak, dystopian and unexpectedly spiritual.

Here the Halos meditate on how loss can occupy our very selves and make music for grown-ups, akin to late Floyd and Radiohead circa OK Computer. The mesmeric Better?, the entrancing Analogue and impassioned Coma – these are pieces of rare intelligence and maturity.

Despite the loss of Anne-Marie Helder, the new line-up (shaped in part around ex-Seahorses personnel) has pushed mainstay Chris Johnson into darker and more complicated territory. Andy Knights’ Thom Yorke-influenced vocals provide a bleak counterpoint to Johnson’s cleaner vox.

The band members’ stellar credentials led to the previous incarnation being dubbed a ‘supergroup’. On the back of this can we call them a mega-group?

Death, obsession and fear are elemental. This is a nightmare you will want to explore again and again.