For a new[ish] band, Black Halo has a long (and sometimes troubled) history.

The Beginning

As a teenager, guitarist Randy Ellefson always envisioned having a twin-guitar metal band inspired by groups like classic Iron Maiden and Metallica. He wrote songs for what would become Black Halo and attempted to form it after high school, but he found little success. And then grunge music changed everything and he soon switched to instrumental guitar.

After releasing four such albums, he returned to his roots. Dusting off old songs, writing new ones, and converting unfinished instrumentals, he recorded Utopia between 2009-2011, along with a local bassist and drummer he’d previously worked with. It was to be the fifth Randy Ellefson album, not the debut by Black Halo, but issues with singers changed that.

The Singer Saga

The first vocalist was difficult to work with and unmotivated, causing tensions that led to his departure. The second singer quit to spend more time with family before heading to federal prison! Next came Chase Breedlove, whose personal troubles caused him to depart. The fourth singer never sang a note after joining and was dismissed. The fifth quit due to financial troubles requiring a second job and no time for music.

By this point, six years had passed and Ellefson was so frustrated that he was accepting less-than-stellar performances from the sixth singer before reluctantly conceding it wasn’t working out.┬áIt was now 2016.

Retirement (?)

While all this was happening, Ellefson had become a father. He’d also returned to instrumentals and released two more albums, which ultimately led to the decision for the vocal album to be released under a band name instead. But by 2016, he couldn’t take the singer issues anymore and just quit music altogether (he even quit playing guitar) to focus on his other love – writing epic fantasy novels and world building guides. He published over two dozen books in the following years.

The Return

In 2022, he began jamming with his then ten-year-old son/drummer, accidentally writing half of another Black Halo album. In early 2023, Randy announced his return to music and his intention to find a vocalist to finish Utopia on Facebook. Former singer Chase Breedlove saw it and, with his personal troubles resolved, returned. By now, the drummer and bassist who’d played on Utopia weren’t available, so replacements did songs that had been altered or added in the years since.

As of this writing (May 2024), the album is nearly done and likely to be released in the fall of 2024.