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Album Review: Half Black Heart by New Years Day

New Years Day

Half Black Heart

Release: March 1, 2024

Article by Elena Vasilico

Photo by Matt Akana

New Years Day is arguably one of the better-known female-fronted bands in the rock and metal scene. The band, led by Ash Costello, is now back with a new album after a whopping five years. The expectations for Half Black Heart were accordingly high. Unfortunately, they were not entirely met.

The album starts with the four pre-releases Vampyre, Half Black Heart, Hurts Like Hell, and Secrets. These songs work great as individual singles, and there's no question that they were superbly produced. However, as openers for this album, they are a bit too similar in structure. All songs begin with heavy guitar riffs, followed by a mix of pop and scream vocals that intensify briefly in the bridge. They are good songs in themselves, but somewhat monotonous in sequence.

Therefore, it's refreshing to get some variation with Fearless. The song starts with a quieter arrangement of piano, guitars, and programmed drums. Costello's voice plays with the beat before the guitars kick in more during the chorus, and she adjusts her voice to screams. The bridge incorporates some light electro elements, which further differentiates the song from the previous tracks. The next songs, Bulletproof and Burn It All Down, have the most radio potential. Both feature a good blend of rock and pop vocals. The instruments are neither too heavy for non-metal fans nor too pop oriented for those who can't stand mainstream pop.

With I Still Believe, a fifth pre-release makes it onto the album. Costello says the song was written in 2020, aiming to reflect the frustration many bands felt during the Covid-19 pandemic. The singer felt lost and uncertain about the future, but she didn't want to give up. The lyrics "I refuse to give up, I refuse to back down" perfectly capture that sentiment. With some electro vibes and poppy vocals, the song stands out as one of the best on the album.

Half Black Heart is a solid album that encapsulates the band's last couple of years. However, as a listener, one wishes for a bit more variety, especially in the first half. The second half clearly excels in that aspect, but still leaves room for more. Despite all the complaining, New Years Day is a band that you shouldn't lose sight of so quickly.

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