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Lost In The Madness (Hurtling Into Fantasy) - 74%

CHAIRTHROWER, September 28th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Independent

Having (rather despondently) written up the first of two Haunt splits released last Friday the 13th (both digitally and on limited edition vinyl under Church Recordings - front man Trevor W.'s self-made label), I figured I'd run the minor gamut by whimsically jolting down a few solemn notes on the second, comprised of the American quartet's stellar 4.5 minute long "Sea of Dreams" and the British Seven Sisters' Pleiadian, as well as slightly shorter, "The Crystal Temple". (Also, lame as it sounds, my present dollar store headphones are such utter crap - vocal registries are skewed beyond measure! - that I simply can't bear more tune time at the moment; nor can I adequately comment on production values, due to this.)

Anyhow, the former, with its twenty-odd seconds of raving n' ravishing i.e. rave-ish "science progressive power metal" keys, spell-bounding-ly presages atypical, not to mention super melodic and rampantly escalating, guitar shuffling on behalf of Church and his Beastmaker cohort John Tucker, with Taylor Hollman and ex Hymn of Rlyeh-er Daniel "Wolfy" Wilson proffering rhythmic collateral (un-damage) on bass and drums, respectively. Whilst "A Fool's Paradise", split with Whittier's Fortress, showcased more of a latter day Haunt - think the Mosaic Vision EP and subsequent If Icarus Could Fly sophomore full-length - this mildly superior sidebar brings to mind the Fresno act's Burst Into Flame debut proper (which followed Church's solo presentation from 2017, the barer albeit commodiously harmonious and seizing Luminous Eyes EP). Of course,, such an observation is duly in the eye(s) of the beholder, or betrothed, should "Sea of Dreams" be gleaned during a honeymoon cruise...

In any case, let it be known the song itself holds a fair, "luminous" (and oh-so numinous!) candle to Iron Maiden's "Sea of Madness", or perhaps even the lesser propagated "Sea of Dead Dreams" by the equally British (yet now defunct) Crowning Glory. This is primarily due to Church's wistfully enchanting vocals - notably the chorus - along with a fatally cloying, if not downright mesmerizing, bridge and tropospheric, star-bound guitar solo beyond the 02:30 mark.

For its part, the Seven Sisters track is much sharper, in the sense it doesn't vary as much from the status quo. That said, I think it's better, or more advantageous, maybe, to check out their Cauldron And The Cross LP from last year, as taken piece meal, SS songs aren't quite as winsome as when viewed/listened to in a conceptual format. Adhering to a stricter power metal approach than Haunt, this second offering may not quite assuage traditional heavy metal proclivities in the same manner as does its Californian brethren, yet, still makes (for) a fine complement to said "piece de resistance".

Interestingly, both splits are of the same length, at just over eight minutes, give or take a second or two. To conclude, it's essential to dig both splits back-to-back (or front-to-front) in order to come to one's own evaluations. Essentially, Haunt's share constitutes the apple of these electric eyes, with the secondary acts no worse for wear - although, not quite fair gauges of their potential or deployability.