Lately I have really enjoyed albums that begin with a killer opening track that really sucks you in. And Mark Slaughter’s new record Halfway There (May 26, EMP Label Group) does just that. “Hey You” is powerful and heavy, even heavier than Mark Slaughter has done with his namesake band. It is also noted that his voice is not at all as one might expect. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing nor completely different. It is just a little more subdued and with more grit. Another heavy track, “Devoted” starts with a more chant-like singing until it goes into the chorus where it becomes more melodic. The riff is heavy throughout the verses and the guitar then begins to flourish during the bridge, leading into the solo where it really soars.
“Supernatural” is the first ballad on the album, which is a nice reprieve from the first two heavy tunes. Slaughter’s vocals are more smooth and melodic with this track. I like the light and happier tone of this song. It almost makes the environment around you light up while listening to it. There are points where his more SLAUGHTER-like vocals come through. The lead guitarist seemed to have fun with this solo as it is very virtuosic but goes well into the mix .
The title track follows the same more subdued tone of the ballad that came before. I much more enjoy the mix of the instruments on this one along with Slaughter’s vocals, which seem to go more often back to his other vocal style. There is also the addition of a keyboard alongside the other instruments. They seem to become much more powerful in a way that is almost orchestral during the chorus along with backing members’ vocal harmonies that are practically angelic. The guitar solo really fits well with the song and rings of passion and emotion.
“Forevermore” starts off light and melodic until it hits the chorus where it kicks into action and becomes much more striking, then calms back down during the verse and continues this cycle throughout. Again, the vocals become more melodic and SLAUGHTER-like. This is another track that easily became a favorite. His passion really shines through and the solo echoes that passion very well.
The next three tracks tend to lose me a bit, but “Turn It,” brings me back around (there’s definitely a pun you will get here). It’s a good, driving song with two immensely satisfying solos in the middle and at the end. The final number, “Not Here,” is rather melancholic and leads you into a rocking/swaying motion. The solo in the middle is incredibly passionate and goes along with the passion of the song very well. Unlike a lot of albums I have listened to lately, this track does not lend an upbeat happy end to things. However, it still seems to close off the album well.
All in all this is a fairly good record Lost me on 3 tracks, but was able to bring me back around. It surprised me not hearing the more SLAUGHTER-esque vocal style from Mark Slaughter, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. In fact I like this version of his voice as well because it is different from normal, though I still prefer his other vocal style more. It’s nice to know Mark can flip a switch with his singing, which is a great skill to possess, as well as how he uses both skillfully on this album. This is certainly a fine follow-up to Reflections in a Rearview Mirror.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Devoted”, “Supernatural”, “Halfway There”, “Forevermore”, “Turn It”