Most of the time when the term Goth Rock is brought up, one can’t help but to think of the attitude heavy, horror punk styling of The Misfits, or the uncompromising weight of any death metal band you could think of. One of the attributes of the goth rock sub-genre that tends to be overlooked is atmosphere. It’s not a genre that necessarily relies on the stereotypical tropes including but not limited to horror theme attire, pale make up, devil worship, vampire themed lyrics and the insatiable love for death. While there are plenty of bands who have played up these very elements throughout the years to various forms of success, there are no proverbial rules that can make a band or artist, gothic.
Sadly, these stereotypes have diluted that particular style in such a manner, that it leads most of the general public to believe it’s a fashion trend of angst-ridden middle schoolers instead of a legitimate sub-genre of music. Bringing back that traditional sense of goth rock, is the Omaha trio that make up Strap On Halo. While the band are usually garbed in dark outfits and make up that counts as the golden standard of that particular genre, Strap On Halo defies what has become of the label and taken it back to square one with their classic take on atmosphere and showmanship.
On their very first vinyl release Ode To Krampus (recorded and engineered by Jeremy Knox, the owner of Flippin Records who released one of my personal favorite EPs this year, Fever by The Nimbus) Strap On Halo sounds as if they recorded their session is a smokey underworld dungeon but doesn’t rely on horrific imagery to sell their mission statement. Instead they focus on an eerie groove and moody atmosphere to paint an audio picture of both gloom and beauty. An ominous piano riff leads the track into a dark, sinister dirge thanks to a solid bass groove and ambient guitar flavorings. The both angelic and tragic vocal line carries the song at a pace that makes it almost hypnotic.
Ode To Krampus is available in extremely limited, lathe cut 7-inch is exclusively on the band’s Official Website just ahead of their upcoming full length album Prayers For The Living early next year.