The first new release of 2020 I have purchased may have it’s eyes on the past, but their feet are planted in the present.
California heavy metal band Haunt are the brainchild of Trevor William Church, who handles vocals and lead guitar. In 2019 Haunt released one full length album, a 5-song EP, and two split record singles. Not one to rest, he hit 2020 off with a powerhouse record released today called Mind Freeze.
The title track displays all the bands trademark sounds. I’d like to review it for you.
The production is a tad murky, I believe intentionally, to give the music a less polished feel. But every instrument has great clarity and is given an audible spot in the mix.
Styles wise, Iron Maiden is the immediate reference point. But to those “in the know”, you’ll hear other influences. The vocals and guitars are melody driven. Trevor lists bands like Angel Witch, Fates Warning, and Blind Guardian as inspirations.
I will review this album using the Gay Metal Scale
Winger being the gayest. And Pantera being the ultra-manliest
Vocals- Clean, velvety smooth vocals are what Haunt give you. Trevor hits high notes, then will accent those with even higher ones, as singers from the Power Metal genre are apt to do. He never approaches Bruce Dickinson level operatic vocals, and he doesn’t try to be Rob Halford, but he still aims for that stratosphere. There are plenty of backing harmonies and the occasional “gang vocals”. Some people find the vocals too poppy. The words tend to be stereotypical metal metaphors. He says fire, Witch, talks about flying and such.
Guitars– Twin guitar melodies, CHECK!Galloping riffs, CHECK! Dual leads, CHECK! Noodling solos, CHECK! All the hallmarks of the 80’s greats are here. But the songs move between parts fast, as to never linger too long. And most songs are 3-4 minutes long. No 10 minute guitar solo epics. Just condensed jam sandwiches.
Rhythm Section- Typically, the guitars and vocals occupy the forefront of a songs mix in heavy metal, and rock music. Haunt are no exception. That doesn’t mean the bass guitar and drums are bad. On the contrary, the players know their role, and play the part to perfection. Along with occasional keyboards, they give the songs a rock solid foundation. And they push the heavy melody forward with some muscles. My only critique is that the drums have an odd sound at times, maybe too much effects on the snare. And no cowbell or gong.
Mind Freeze is a fun ride that looks back at the first generation of metal music that dropped the blues influence like their 1970’s predecessors, and forged a more metallic tone, and added new influences. But it also is forward thinking in terms of composition, and playing.
Rating: 5 on the Gay Metal Scale. They won’t try to slip you a mickey and ass blast you, and they won’t call you a faggot from their 1984 Camaro when you walk by them in the parking lot. Haunt are in between that. Tons of melody but just enough burl to back it up.
Here is the full album
Look for Haunt on tour this spring