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New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal Has Much More To Offer Than That! - 64%

Alban JP, March 21st, 2020

I honestly think it's a great thing that bands of today are coming out to perform a style that's been kind of overshadowed by the rise of genres like nu metal, metalcore, and groove metal. However not all bands that do this are immediately that great. And Haunt is a prefect example of that. I discovered them through a screening room on Amino of their song "Burst into Flame", which is an awesome song, by the way! It's catchy, it's fast, and so damn memorable...if only the rest of this album was.

After hearing that masterpiece of a song I decided to listen to this album to see if the rest of it is any good...unfortunately not really. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure these guys are super talented, but barely do they even attempt at proving it. Anyone who has wrote a song like the title-track definitely has a lot of talent, but here? I don't know, bro. It just doesn't feel like they're using it to their full extent. The rest of the album is just weak, slow-paced, and boring songs that are NOTHING I would want to check out again on my free time. "Crystal Ball" is okay, but nothing compared to the title-track. When I want a good album I want an album where most of the tracks shine in their own way...not where it starts with a song that's so amazing that the rest of the album just feels overshadowed by it.

And with the song "Wanderlust", my god does that have one of the most misleading intros ever. When it starts it out, I feel like we're finally gonna get something as good as the title-track but no, it's just another one of the nameless and tasteless tracks on this nameless and tasteless album. Legit my entire time listening to this album was just waiting for something to happen after the amazing opener. And if that's how I feel when I listen to the album then chances are it's not that good. I'm looking forward to listening to Haunt's other two albums, I just hope if those are any better.

A Cheesecake of Sound - 95%

l Lunaris l, February 18th, 2020

Ah, where to begin? This album is just pleasant. Very pleasant. It’s not just candy for the ears, it’s more like a deeper dessert, something that is sweet but still rich and full of flavor. A cheesecake, maybe. Yeah, this album is cheesecake. And it is a damn tasty one, let me tell you.

Silly analogy aside, this record is indeed a very pleasant listen. Haunt has a calming air about their music, a strange pacifying feeling that makes me smile. And this album, their first full-length, is where I think it really starts to shine. Luminous Eyes was good and had that element to it, but here everything is amplified in quality. From its melodic licks, bridges, and solos to the heavy riffing to Church’s powerful and beautiful vocals, this is an album you can rock out to or sing along to or fall asleep to (all of which I’ve done). The atmosphere is a bit floaty and spacey and warm, at least compared to other heavy metal, and the music often feels sonically full without being overpowering.

The lyrics might not be masterful poetry, but they are solid and well-written; and more importantly, they compliment the music very, very well. You won’t find much violence or monsters or generic fantasy worlds here, nor will you find more impersonal songs about sex or drugs or alcohol; rather, you’ll find songs about personal struggle and despair and hope and love. And these themes are handled relatively maturely, without coming off as a teen angst kind of thing. They feel personal while retaining a good bit of mystique, and they immerse me in the music even further.

To better explain how the music and lyrics work together, let’s take a look at the title track, Burst into Flame. It’s faster and heavier than most of their other songs, already standing out in that regard and bringing a more aggressive feel to the table, and then the lyrics present the idea of great anger through the image of “bursting into flames” and being “like a fireball”. Not only are the music and lyrics written to match, anger is not conveyed in an obnoxious way here. The line “I fight for everything I love” might seem cheesy, but it really works here.

From Burst into Flame, the album moves into Crystal ball, an example of a song with compelling and interesting lyrics. It takes the supernatural idea of destiny and prophecy and puts a more personal spin on it. The lyrics don’t spell everything out clearly, but do convey doubt and possibly anxiety at the beginning of the song before moving towards a certainty and confidence at the second half. No epic journey here, no prophecy about a hero, just some guy’s life being shown to him. And I love it.

But I’d be here all day if I went through every track, and I know how much all of you here hate that. So we’ll move on to what my only gripe with their previous work was: production. And I can safely say that production is not a weakness here. The sound consistently comes through clean, and each piece is mixed just right and is very audible. It feels very balanced, and it has a warm, human feel to it. It isn’t overproduced and cold, but it isn’t too fuzzy and soft either. The songwriting is given as best a chance to be appreciated as it could be, honestly.

As much as I hate the term “instant classic”, I gotta give this record the title. This is one I come back to often, and I have a feeling I’m going to continue doing so. I highly, highly recommend it. High point(s): Burst into Flame, Frozen in Time, Wanderlust

95/100
-Luna

"Aint Seen Any Haunts Yet" - Shaggy Rogers - 93%

Sweetie, September 11th, 2018

Haunt are a group of young U.S. headbangers that make heavy metal that’s very traditional sounding, but cleansed by today’s sound enhancers and a vast amount of influences to draw from. Burst Into Flame is their first full length, hitting the scene earlier this year, and it’s probably one of the cleanest produced records that I’ve heard this year, in regards to not having much noise. Part of it is due to the fact that it isn’t harsh in any sense at all, and is very much a guitar album, with solos and vigorous licks taking a lot of the forefront. That said, it’s got riffs for days, and is very good with transitions and is packed with strong bridges.

As mentioned, there’s nothing angry or devious about this. A lot of the lyrical contents focus on supernatural subjects and fantastical themes, but mostly refrains from evil. This draws a friendlier environment in the playing, and gives off the same type of energy as something like Canada’s Phantom, rather bands like In Solitude. Some of them even have a sadder vibe to them, such as the song “Reflectors”. No crunch or bite, just heavy guitars with a sorrowful tone and softer singing to overlay. On the contrary, the track before this one “Crystal Ball” is faster and has a magical feel to it. This allows the guitars to rip into strong solos with licks snuck in everywhere, and I mean everywhere! It isn’t just your typical “strong riffs with vocals and then a solo”. It sneaks in shredding pieces all over the place, much like our friend Eddie Van Halen was notorious for.

The mega clean production treats the fret handler John William Tucker very well, as it makes all of the lead guitar sections bust out like a hot knife through butter. Higher elevated tapping is used, as well as low and slow sections that focus more on melody. All of this being said, this actually does cause for one weakness. Since the guitars are so strong and boisterous, it actually shadows everything else out some. The vocals are one thing that I have a bit of an issue with, as they lack the energy that the guitars display, and can’t seem to be up to par with everything else. The range is certainly there, but the delivery sounds somewhat tired. Also, even the drums, as great as they are, can’t be heard super well. With a more even mix, and a bit more umph to the singing, this could have been absolutely spectacular.

Don’t let these drawbacks turn you away, because what does come through is beyond incredible. The melody is insane. The solos and licks are insane. The rhythms that switch between speed picking and slower bounces are insane. Everything about the guitar work in general is beautiful. It’s just that the vocals need more power and the mix could be a little more even. Clean production doesn’t always mean even mix. Not a long album, and it doesn’t get very samey, so Burst Into Flame is well worth your time. Highly suggested for fans of traditional heavy metal and early power metal.

Originally written for Antichrist Magazine:
http://antichristmagazine.com/review-haunt-u-s-burst-into-flame-shadow-kingdom-records/

Ears Set Ablaze - 80%

MostlyYelling, August 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Shadow Kingdom Records (Bandcamp)

Originally written and published on my site, MostlyYelling

I'm slightly under qualified to review Haunt's new album Burst Into Flames in that I don't own a jean jacket or a pair of aviators. I didn't even listen to this album on cassette at full volume in a Chevy Camaro with the T-Tops off. Despite these crucial setbacks, I feel qualified enough to praise Trevor Church and his newly founded backing band on successfully channelling that classic NWOBHM sound into an album that's worth blasting at top volume in 2018.

Haunt originally began in 2017 as a solo project for Church before exploding into a full-fledged trio this year. Haunt's debut EP Luminous Eyes was a four track solo effort that juxtaposed Church's doomier efforts in Beastmaker and essentially laid the groundwork for a promising career. Luminous Eyes was good. Maybe a little lacking in the energy department, but a fun, earworm-laden listen. Now Church, backed by an additional guitarist and rhythm section, comes screaming into the world of heavy metal with proof that he's a forced to be reckoned with.

Burst Into Flame is exactly what Haunt needed to turn heads by the masses. It's energetic and catchy, and it just nails that classic heavy metal sound so hard. "My Mirage" shuffles along like an old Thin Lizzy track, closer "Looking Glass" fits right in on Iron Maiden's Powerslave, and the whole album in general lives in the same realm that 80s Van Halen and Judas Priest does. The beauty of Burst Into Flames that it has no problem wearing its numerous influences proudly like patches on an old battle vest, but never succumbs to sounding like a unimaginative ripoff. Church and crew aren't trying to reach back in time and pull 80s heavy metal kicking and whining into 2018. Haunt is simply creating a new generation of the genre.

I'd be remiss in my talking about Burst Into Flame without dedicating some time to talking about the album's killer guitar work. The crunchy riffs and the constant dual guitar attack are more than enough to satiate any heavy metal fan's appetite. Look no further than the song "Frozen In Time" as a prime example of that. "Frozen In Time" has more quotable licks than some bands have on their entire album and all of them are going to be stuck in your head.

Then are the solos on Burst Into Flame. Oh my god the solos. They shred hard. They quote melodic passages as perfect callbacks to previous portions of the song. Plus I don't think I've heard someone pull off Van Halen-esque tapping solos so tastefully and masterfully since maybe Eddie himself.

Haunt's rhythm section also deserves a shout out here. Bassist Matthew Wilhoit and drummer Daniel Wilson add the perfect flourishing colors to Haunt's twin axemen, and fortunately are mixed well into the record. When Wilhoit is doing something to counter the guitars, or just providing an interesting backdrop, you can actually hear everything he's playing. Burst Into Flames is Haunt's first record as a band and is meant to showcase everyone equally.

You could put Burst Into Flame on shuffle and still be able to identify every single song. There are a lot of retro-throwback metal bands out there attempt to do what Haunt did right out of the gate, which is to simultaneously floor fellow musicians and snag the casual listener with catchy melodies and huge choruses. Burst Into Flames is the album that's going to put Haunt on the bills of bigger festivals and in the mouths of a lot more critics, all of which will (or at least should) be singing Haunt's praises. Preferably over a galloping drumbeat.

I Can Always Press Rewind - 90%

Twisted_Psychology, August 10th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Shadow Kingdom Records

When listening to Haunt’s first full-length album Burst Into Flame, it’s clear that the project got a serious shot in the arm since the release of 2017’s Luminous Eyes EP. Burst into Flame adheres to the same lo-fi classic metal template, but the execution is more energetic and almost urgent this time around. Much of this could be attributed to main man Trevor William Church expanding the lineup to a full quartet but the way these songs are written suggests that this was all part of the plan.

A full lineup has certainly resulted in some intricate musicianship. The drums pack a stronger punch this time around, occasionally driving song tempos to near speed metal levels, and there is an even greater emphasis on bright guitar harmonies and choppy rhythms. On the flip side, the vocals retain their same nasally tone that’s likely always going to be part of Haunt’s character. It worked for Goat Horn a decade ago, and it works just as well here.

Burst into Flame also happens to be a hooky affair and the consistently brief runtimes keep songs from overstaying their welcome. “Reflectors” and “Can’t Get Back” may be the album’s most accessible tracks, with upbeat chugs and catchy choruses that keep their middle of the road tempos interesting. Elsewhere, “Frozen in Time” stands out for its especially melodic vocals while the bouncy “My Mirage” proves that Gygax isn’t the only new band that can pull off the Thin Lizzy shuffle. There may still be a couple moments where one could hope for a little extra oomph, but the earworms more than make up for it.

Like Luminous Eyes before it, Haunt’s first full-length album is strongly recommended to those who want a perfect balance of grit and melody in their traditional metal. The songwriting is about even over the two releases, but the intricate musicianship and more fleshed out styles on Burst into Flame give it the inevitably superior edge. There’s a lot of crossover potential on here and I really hope Haunt can get to the next level before Mr. Church works himself to death…

Highlights:
“Reflectors”
“My Mirage”
“Frozen in Time”
“Can’t Get Back”

Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com