Picture courtesy of www.halomusic.com

Halo / Serafin - Manchester Hop & Grape - 13.5.02

The rock scene has always been the place for misfits to find refuge and that still holds true to this day, even despite its recent surge in popularity. While the media friendly bands (i.e. over hyped American Nu-metal) regularly attract sold out crowds simply because they're endorsed by the likes of  K**rang or M*tal H**mer, there is a British rock scene which is just bubbling under right now ready will a melting pop of fresh ideas mixed with the passionate intensity of the old school rockers. Heading out on a tour together Halo and Serafin are two prime examples of why the UK rocks and the US Metal scene is set to explode under the weight of his own navel glazing ego issues.

Serafin made their mark at last years In The City (which due to timing I failed to miss on the account that the only ITC event I made it too was the fantastic hip-hop 3 piece Moss-Siddaz) and have since signed to Taste records joining the likes of Muse on their roster. While the debut release, which follows that recent trend of British rock bands to strip titles down to their most simplistic form and use the imaginative title of EP1, is perhaps lost among the current crop of recent rock releases it the live shows that Serafin really come into their own. With Darryn Harkness' limitless energy and the sort of charisma which really  leaves introverted frontman, but fantastically monikered Ben Fox Smith in the shade, and the addition of ex-Catherine Wheel bass player Benjamin Ellis recently joining the ranks it a winning combination. Its just the start for this four piece, but if they can transfer that live energy to the studio recordings then Serafin can go all the way.

Halo, on the other hand, are old pro's in comparison. Having toured the length of the country countless times on the humble support slot this is finally the time when Halo have to stand up on their own. The last time they played Manchester they were supporting Rachel Stamp and unsurprisingly the assorted transsexual cross dressing tie-died types have stayed in for the night applying make up like Glam Rock never happened. What were left with is a small, but perfectly formed crowd who are in total awe of the impassionate cry of Halo's rock, which veers somewhere as a middle ground between Muse's melancholic overblown prog rock and the layered harmonies which harks back to their Scottish Ancestry.

Formed around the nucleus of the Moncrieff brothers, a pair so stunningly good-looking (in a skinny waif type of way) they make the Lost Prophets look as if they come from the Isle of the Dogs. Lead vocalist Graeme with a micro-mohikan looking like one of the Rug Rats who discovered Never Mind The Bollocks in his parents basement and based his whole life around that one record. While his brother Iain has already taken the crown from Nicky Wire as Sexiest Male Of The Year so every other band might has well drop out now.

Musically its broader than just your usual rock references with the Beatles held in as much respect as Metallica and the Beach Boys respected as much as Tool. Its this mix up of styles which collides in the recent Mark and Lard record of the week with "Sanctimonious", a song with more depth in its opening bar than the complete range of Nu-Metal crap being sent wholesale from the states.With songs about oral sex, piano ballads to cry in our pint to and looks to die for what more can you ask for in a rock band. Halo are the sort of band that inspire stalking and religious devotion, so don't be surprised when you see bodies hiding in the shadows wherever they go.

Alex McCann

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