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The Frost Is Taking Over (How Long Will I Last?!) - 91%

CHAIRTHROWER, January 11th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Shadow Kingdom Records

Shazam! Had I not prophesied, Rasputin-like, in the daze following Earth's 2017 Fall Equinox, a lone-wolf trad metal auspice by the prosaic but apt name of Haunt would, in (no) time, evolve into something approaching mythical, if not fondly lionized, cult-status? However, little did we know the Golden State venture would soon morph into a highly adaptive quarternity-for-eternity comprised of ambitiously synergetic rock n' rollers who favor the votive, (outer) spacial and ephemeral, judging from its respective, back-to-back debut LP and secondary EP, not to mention pair of split (fingered) singles alongside fellow revivalists Fortress - down the road in Whittier - and Great Britain's equally cosmic light bender, Seven Sisters. If these recent snippets assuaged no more than at a perfunctory level, rest assured yesterday's astrally occultic chef-d'oeuvre, as well as third full-length release, Mind Freeze, duly reclaims the rich, wicked melody and irrefutably fluttering, cathartic traction of said Phoenix Rising EP, albeit in a superlatively throttling, or effervescently diffuse, "rocket" manner.

Not to toot my own horn - or, if you like, spook my own ghost - but wasn't it clear, from Haunt's intimated, (Hans) solo-borne yet all-too brief Luminous Eyes EP, "something wicked" and flavorful, not merely apocryphal, was brewing down Fresno-way? Whilst languorously effused soupcons of Canada's Cauldron abound, so, still, do early 1980s Ozzy glaciality and ruefully driven mid-tempo flair - in particular, on the boldly retro & chthonian title track, "Gel de l'Esprit", where front scepter-man Trevor Church's disarmingly aphoristic and phantasmal chanting beguiles, ten-fold. To my (Reptilian) ears, he also brings to mind the iconic Double "O"'s charm and sagacity, however long-dissipated. (Just listen closely for the your elated leisure, of course.)

Fans of sombre and cagilinously grooving outfits akin to Black Sites, Flight, Idle Hands, Sumerlands and In Solitude (RIP) will positively revel in winsomely liberating songs such as (opener) "Light the Beacon" - it was only a matter of time before Haunt hit on a thusly-named title - the above mentioned "Mind Freez(i)e", and further humdinger, the closing "Voyageur" (and no, we're not talking about Qu├ębec's cut-off and folksy provincial "ligne d'autobus"). In fact, the latter outlier's dominant minor-scaled tenure - more so, even, than among eight congruously gelid, yet as-energetic, counterparts. - allows for pronounced depth, not to mention ineluctable instant-replayability. Truly insane, though, is how swiftly and innocuously, in just over two years, Haunt has both carved, as well as reinvented, its identity.

Along with "Light The Beacon"'s super sordid and lugubrious "American Horror Story:1984" conjuring synth induction, the musty old school accent which prevails, without wax (dummy) or wane, contributes immensely towards making Mind Freeze - I dig saying it! - Haunt's most sound and reputable record to date. Additionally, for my own planetary archives, entertain the very real and benign possibility "Traveler", with its final thrust into hyper-drive, orbits a wicked companion piece (split) in either Emblem or Oath, one of these light-years. Where the reliquian Burst Into Flame and If Icarus Could Fly solidly perpetuate Trevor and crew's shrewd, laconic genius for breezy melody, this here classy n' chimeric Shadow Kingdom analog snowcone of galaxy-minded self-realization is, effortlessly put, one for the celestial ages!

"On a course to see the stars.
I can't live behind closed bars.
The wind tells me where to go.
A quest to see what is unknown."