The AMG Overlords are vengeful overlords. One wrong step, one missed tithe, and an underling can find oneself working in the boiler room again. Or worse yet, getting duped into a review of something unexpected. Case in point, someone we all know and love was late with a review and thus, scrambling to get back in Madam and Steel’s good graces, frantically grabbed a promo described by the Overlords as “post-something.” I’ve been had. Heaven in Her Arms are a Japanese hardcore act who incorporate some progressive elements, some death elements, and some screamo, but not really any post-something. I suppose the song length could be post-something, but that’s about it. Regardless, I’ve bitten it off and now I have to chew it.

Some research was in order here: I haven’t really listened to much Japanese metal since, well, Loudness, and Loudness this ain’t. But Heaven in Her Arms have been around for ten years now, and despite this being their third proper release, White Halo is their first record to be issued in North America. Without having heard their first two releases, I’ve got a pretty open mind heading into this one, and musically these guys flash talent throughout, with a tight rhythm section, decent if stereotypical guitar playing, and tasteful atmospheric keyboard work. Too bad it’s all been brickwalled into a DR4 master, as White Halo only sounds passably decent during its quiet moments, of which there are plenty throughout.

White Halo starts off rather pointlessly, with the two-minute instrumental prelude “Ray of Light at Dusk.” Much like in books, preludes are a pet peeve of mine. If it’s important (in music and books) make it part of the first song/chapter: if it’s not, leave it out. In this case, it should have been left out, as should have the equally pointless midpoint ambient piece “Chain with Fetters.” Now, this distaste comes with a caveat: there’s a chance that White Halo is some sort of concept album, and these pieces somehow add to the story. I have no idea, though, because press is slim for Heaven in Her Arms, and all the lyrics are either screamed or muttered in Japanese. An English translation would have been a great add. Without it, White Halo is essentially a five-song album that’s incomprehensible to the majority of the world.

The five songs all follow a similar template. Blast away in death metal mode for a couple minutes, scream your way through the lyrics, then bring everything to a halt with a couple minutes of quiet, pensive, atmospheric music coupled with muttered lyrics before jumping back into screamo death mode. “Abyss of the Moonbow” features eight minutes of this, as does “Glare of the End.” “Entangled Torus” is, yes, another eight-minute scream-mutter-scream track, while album closer “Turbid Fog” drags it out for eleven minutes. And how about those song names? Love ‘em. But following the same template throughout makes these songs all just blend together and frankly starts to annoy the hell out of me by the end of the second song. I’m no fan of screaming to begin with, but Kent’s vocals (only first names for these guys) drive me further up the wall than normal.

White Halo is a complete miss for me, but there’s just as much a chance that this is a progressive hardcore Japanese masterpiece as there is the reverse. From what I’ve got to work with, though, Heaven in Her Arms have given us a brickwalled, chaotic, pretentious mess with repetitive arrangements. Solid musical abilities and  moments of adept songwriting save this from complete failure, but I can’t find a compelling reason to listen to this again until I can understand Japanese. Lesson learned: no more late submissions from this boiler-room dweller!1

 


Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Translation Loss
Websites: heaveninherarms.bandcamp.com | heaveninherarms.com/topics/index.html | facebook.com/heaveninherarmsjapan
Releases Worldwide: July 7th, 2017

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  1. We have some swell post-Peruvian, post-pornogrind on tap if you’re interested. – Steel
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  • Grymm

    I love post-metal. I love Japan. I don’t love this, though.

    • You are now post-Japan.

      • Grymm

        And post-BAX (or whatever that says behind the band).

      • SelfIndulgence

        I received post from Japan recently.

        • Tentacle anime porn?

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Just… don’t Google that. What’s seen cannot be unseen.

          • Too late.

          • SelfIndulgence

            Well that got ugly quick. Guess I deserve it though.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            REAL tentacle porn?

          • [not a Dr]

            A DIY tentacle porn kit?

        • Name’s Dalton

          Was it a Melt~Banana album?

    • Huck N’ Roll

      I hereby bequeath upon you their next release.

  • rumour_control

    “scream-mutter-scream”

  • Eldritch Elitist

    Ah, yes. Good. It wouldn’t be J-metal if blood wasn’t streaming out my ears by the end of it.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      “Japanese” is Metalese for “tinnitus.”

  • welyyt

    Heaven in Her Arms is a cool band name, it sounds really romantic and nice.

    • Kronos

      Thank Converge.

      • welyyt

        Oh, I had no idea. Then again, I’ve been delaying listening to Jane Doe for months now; I deserved this.

      • Unwanted Guest

        Exactly. They are named after mighty Converge.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I was just about to make a comment about how lame and NOT Metal that name is…

      • welyyt

        It doesn’t have to be metal to be a cool name.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    I’d rather listen to sushi.
    Post sushi would….I guess. …be poo.

    • Nukenado

      Sushi is just post-sashimi.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        I’ll have to take your word on that lol

  • Treble Yell

    Heaven in Her Arms
    Hell between her thighs
    Purgatory in her navel

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      Limbo in her large intestine

      • Nukenado

        Isn’t that just Purgatory?

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Idk….I’m not Catholic lol

          • Nukenado

            Just nitpicking :3

    • Monsterth Goatom

      That reminds me of a certain Weregoat song.

    • Name’s Dalton

      Long night, huh?

      • Treble Yell

        Make sure to stretch beforehand.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Is that what she meant when she told me to go to Hell?

  • Mr T

    Embedded track really picks up after a while, well, last third anyway. Actually not too bad.

  • Eli Valcik

    Even more Soap Opera names.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      It’s “Bands named after a Soap Opera” Month at AMG!

      • Eli Valcik

        I miss “Album art with boobs and other assorted circles month.”

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          AMG should start a “Yer Metal has Boobs on the Cover” feature.

  • Danny

    I love the vocals, but that’s just me. Everything else, not so much. Especially not the DR4. Pass

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Damn that hurts… Best part of this was when I read the song title “Abyss of the Moonbow” as “Abyss of the Monobrow”. I became momentarily excited for an abyss that I would’ve been interested to check out…

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Well, at first glance I read “Turbid Fog” as “Turd Dog”

      • Drew Music

        I saw “Turbid Frog” and quickly got disappointed. I keep randomly wandering onto a Slugdge tangent lately, I think part of me is looking for more animal themed metal. Redwall Metal? Can that be a thing? I suppose Måsstaden wasn’t too far from such, and that beast (ha) just absolutely does it for me, and I can’t even listen to most djent bands these days.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Language shouldn’t be a barrier if the music is good… I don’t know Danish, Norwegian or Swedish yet I enjoy Undergang, Khold and those Swedish language Falconer songs.

  • Planex

    The period of listening to this was post-enjoyment.

  • Unwanted Guest

    1.5 is too low, biased by hate.

    >all the lyrics are either screamed or muttered in Japanese. An English translation would have been a great add. Without it, White Halo is essentially a five-song album that’s incomprehensible to the majority of the world.

    I’m surprised you understand German, Finnish, French, Irish, Polish, and Greek… There are many great bands singing in non-English. I wish you had any motivation to learn Japanese ’cause you seem very intelligent.

    Thank you for the subjective review for my favorite band. You benefited me learning anger management.

    • Planex

      English translation of the lyrics, not the song. Many bands provide translated lyrics online by or in the booklet.

      • Unwanted Guest

        Translating their lyric is too difficult. Their lyric is some kind of dadaism in part.
        I, as a Japanese, cannot understand everything what they say.

        However, thank to you, I understand the point. Someone should try to translate and upload it on the web. I will send a mail to them about it.

        • wrathzombie

          Dont be upset, Japanese friend. There would be people who understand the beauty in what HIHA has done and that is all that matters, I am not sure I do though. This is just a review. Numbers don’t matter. Peace. Its all about personal enjoyment at the end.

      • Unwanted Guest

        I sent a message to HIHA and they responded to it. They say the translations are already on the booklet.

        So it turned out that this reviewer said “Sing in English.”

        • Treble Yell

          As a general rule, lyric sheets are never sent with the promo. In my time as a reviewer I’ve only been sent the lyrics to an album once.

          • Unwanted Guest

            So he should not have claimed the language problem in his review. I only wish that the album has been reviewed by more intelligent and sensible person. I don’t want a high rating for it but reasonable critics.

          • [not a Dr]

            It doesn’t seem like he’s blaming them…
            He is saying that there are 2 tracks that feel useless to him, but that his opinion on these 2 tracks could drastically change if they were there because of a concept. And, as he doesn’t understand or have access to the lyrics, he can’t know if this is the case.
            To me, he is using the language barrier as a tool to say that this could be much more awesome than he perceived. That was a pretty intelligent and sensitive thing to add.

          • Unwanted Guest

            Much more “awesome”? He rated 1.5, which means BAD. If you get the translated lyric, bad turns awesome? It never likely happen…

            An intelligent person doesn’t say “another eight-minute scream-mutter-scream track,” ’cause it’s not about music itself.

            I appreciate that you tried to mollify my anger and protect him. But I never understand his review. I don’t like his another review on Stallion. Stallion is good B speed metal band.

          • Huck N’ Roll

            The beauty of reviews is that not everyone has to agree. :) Freedom of thought, etc! I never said they should sing in English anywhere in the review. I said I wish I had a translation so I knew what was going on with the album, and thus the first sentence in my last paragraph. Be as angry as you like, but if you like it then buy it and listen to it, my word is not the Final Word. :)

          • Unwanted Guest

            Bought it? Really? You have not known them before, and don’t like scream and you’ve never wrote reviews about post-black metal? You seem not to be in favor of post-hardcore and post-black metal. Really? Why did you buy this and write a review before thinking deeply?

            I apologize for writing as if you are an American English centrist. But I don’t think you were sincere to write this review.

            I don’t need you to do something. I just wanna tell you my anger. It’s completed. So don’t bother to mollify me. I have good metal albums that do it for me.

          • [not a Dr]

            Not trying to mollify anything or protect anyone. Just pointing out that there are different ways of interpreting what the reviewer wrote.
            You don’t like the review, I’m ok with that.
            You don’t like this reviewer’s style, I’m ok with that too.
            You like the band and their album, I’m more than ok with that, I give special attention to bands that get low scores from reviewers that admit disliking the genre.
            But it seems to me like you are deploying a considerable effort into reading anti-japan bigotry from this article. While combatting bigotry is a worthy cause, I firmly believe that there is nothing of the sort to battle here.

          • Unwanted Guest

            I don’t wanna point out “Anti-Japan,” I’m not a patriot warrior. I hate his attitude to the review for HIHA. Lyrics and translation is not the problem of music itself. How many times he write “Japanese”? Is it needed? Then, longer duration, similar arrangement and instrumental tracks are not rare cases for the metal, especially for atmospheric black metal.

            He just write “I hate this, i don’t write good review, I just pick up the lows.”

          • You made your point. You disagree with the review. You’re taking it really hard though, wouldn’t you say?

          • Unwanted Guest

            There are many reviews I disagree with. However, at least, I think that they are wrote sincerely. I can’t find it in this review. So I felt “hate” and I start hating this. But I’m not so mad now.

            We all don’t need to hug every time. We can be friendly other days. I don’t wanna make you do something. I just wanted to tell my anger. I admit that I had some irrational ones, and I apologize it. I’m sorry.

    • Huck N’ Roll

      I’m not biased by hate: I’m biased by disappointment. I don’t hate anything except Tom Hanks.

      • Unwanted Guest

        I’m sorry. I, no other than myself, was biased by hate. But I wish you gave it another chance. This is not so bad album, deserving 2.5 or more.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        You obviously have never seen “The Money Pit” or “The Man with One Red Shoe” the two early masterpieces of film which laid the foundations for his acting career.

    • Danny

      I have to agree that criticizing the band for singing in Japanese seemed a bit unfair, especially given how many bands are reviewed here who sing in different languages and how unintelligible most harsh vocals are anyways. If Moonsorrow’s VKKM can net a perfect score with lyrics all in Finnish and no translation provided it shouldn’t be a grounds for criticism here.

  • Tofu muncher

    I kinda like the embedded track. Oh well back to lovebites then.

  • Drew Music

    Can we just have a new Converge album instead?

  • Embedded track shows some clear talent IMO. Song is too long though and has a tendency to feel lagging around the mid section. I had no problem with the Japanese lyrics outside of the fact that some lyrics feeling shoehorned in and awkward in their delivery. Other than that it’s the lack of dynamics that kill it for me… Meh

  • Grimstrider

    …hmm, I think i’ve figure out the post-something: Talent.

  • I’m not a fan of this music and I won’t make the comments that other’s have already made about the use of Japanese language.

    This is the first time I’ve seen a Japanese band reviewed on this site and I got really excited… until I read the review and listened. Blech. Not for me at all. Huck N’ Roll, I should have just read the review an not listened.

    I’m going to go cleanse my ears by going to listen to some Seikima-II. Those guys are sadly very underappreciated and I think in large part it is because of… language! They have been around since the early 80’s and I know very few metal fans who’ve ever heard of them. Demon Kogure is a phenomenal singer, one of the best in all of heavy metal in my opinion. When I first saw Grymm’s avatar I thought it was a picture of Xenon (bassist of Seikima-II) and Xenon is a beast of a bass player. Fear not, for those of you who cannot listen to music in Japanese, they released 2 full albums of songs redone in English a few years back. Of course, age has taken a little off of Demon’s fastball, but it’s still a nice treat. If you like heavy metal or Japan or just good music in general, check them out.

  • Simbod

    Actually I think you are the wrong person to review this album. Saying there are death metal elements in it (and there is really much going on, but definitely no death metal), denying the post-elements when they are clearly there and stating that you actually don’t like screaming (then why do you review an album that is based on this singing style?) you clearly are not very familiar with this genre and how it works.
    Also, as some others have pointed out before, the whole lyric aspect is just nonsense. I also write reviews for a webzine and know that promos rarely include a sheet with lyrics and this also bothers me a lot. But if so, you just have to leave this aspect out of the review. Someone in the comments stated that the lyrics are translated in the booklet. It is absolutely pointless to critisize the band for not singing in English just because you only received a promo version without lyrics.
    Musicwise of course it’s rather subjetive. I think the album is absolutely great and an emotional, musically competent piece of work, one of the best albums of 2017 so far and would have rated it 4/5, but with good arguments you can of course explain, why you didn’t like it. Your review unfortunately lacks good arguments (except for the repetition aspect, which I think is very untrue) and sums up to “dunno, just didn’t like it and I don’t understand Japanese”.