If there’s one thing that HÆLOS managed to achieve with their debut album Full Circle, it’s total cohesion. The album is dominated by a dark and sprawling ambient soundscape, rooted in a more modern take of the trip-hop genre that combines it with some popular dance and electronic tropes. The album’s sound is so cohesive that it almost feels like a completely fluid piece of work; its flaws are obvious in the long run, but the remainder of the album makes up for it.
The album makes good use of some particularly grandiose elements to increase its sweeping scope: strings recur throughout the album constantly, notably adding their touch to Earth Not Above and Oracle, while the latter also utilises sampled vocals to create a wide melodic riff that mirrors the instrumental arrangement. Oracle’s use of a dance beat also makes it one of the tracks to stand out from the more subdued mid-tempo tracks that surround it, and its ability to meld these disparate elements is another of its resounding strengths.
The mid-tempo tracks tend to be the album’s strongest moments, though, whether they follow the grandiose structure or forego it. Alone makes good use of the male and female vocal harmonies, alongside a simple yet impactful beat, making the most out of a surprisingly small amount of elements compared to the rest of the album. Given that it’s followed by the frantic skittering of Separate Lives and the continued dance beats of Sacred, it’s almost astonishing that the album remains so cohesive.
Its cohesiveness is also the album’s biggest weakness, though; a repetition of ideas and elements can be noticed throughout most of the songs, and the fluid nature of the album only helps to make this flaw even more apparent. As both the best and worst element of the album, it leaves Full Circle in a slightly awkward spot. The album is still exceedingly strong, especially for a debut album, but this flaw simultaneously keeps it from achieving total greatness. Make no mistake about it, though; Full Circle is still very much worthy of your time and attention.