Although hard rock/heavy metal is generally considered to be a man’s world, many female fronted bands have gained a rabid fan base over the past several years. One of the latest, Van Halst, is certainly a worthy contender. This Canadian band’s debut album, World of Make Believe, is designed to make you think as you rock out with its sociopolitical themes that tackle such topics as domestic violence, rape, religion and political corruptness.
The album begins with a gentle ballad ,“Denying Eyes”, a perfect showcase for singer Kami Van Halst‘s beautiful, soft vocals. The band does give you a little taste of hard rock toward the end and you hear a bit of the vocal power that will be unleashed later. That power is released on the following track, “The End”, with growls and screams added to the vocal repertoire. Perhaps my favorite track, “Monster”, has a singalong chorus, a beat you can bang your head to, and blazing guitars. The bluesy hard rock of “Put Him Down” fits the mood of an abused woman who must get rid of her tormentor in order to move on with her life. Kami‘s voice is perfectly suited to this genre of music and the guitar work of Scott Greene is impressive as well so perhaps Van Halst will revisit it on future releases. The album does offer a glimmer of hope in “Ryan’s Song”, a power ballad about finding love in a sick and twisted world. The first single from the album, “Save Me”, condemns religion using a combination of power metal and melodic vocals punctuated by guttural growls. The album finishes with the title track, “World of Make Believe”, a hard rocker that leaves you wanting more.
Throughout the album, Van Halst masters the art of the well-placed audio snippet from journalists, politicians, and religious leaders to highlight their message. The band states that they want to use their music to give voice to those who aren’t being heard, which is the driving force behind World of Make Believe. While I am not a huge fan of bands using their music as a platform for their sociopolitical agendas, I must say that it did not hamper my enjoyment of this album and a couple of the songs did give me something to think about, so I give them respect for that. Even though Kami Van Halst has an amazing voice, I felt there were a few too many ballads. Not often does a band come along that feels as comfortable showing you their softer side as often as their heavier one and does both incredibly well. This album is worth your time! Go get it! I look forward to the next one!