Monday 13 January 2020

Haunt - Mind Freeze (Shadow Kingdom Records)

Labels: Shadow Kingdom Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital
Release Date: 10 Jan 2020


1. Light The Beacon
2. Hearts On Fire
3. Mind Freeze
4. Divide And Conquer
5. Saviours Of Man
6. Fight Or Flight
7. Have No Fear
8. On The Stage
9. Voyager

The heavy metal genre lost one of it's modern greats when Beastmaker's Trevor William Church announced that Haunt was going to be his primary focus, but fans of the music needn't have worried too much. Haunt takes what Beastmaker created and runs with it. 2019 was a bumper year for the band, seeing the release of a full-length, an EP and two splits. 2020 has only just started and the quartet is back with their their full-length "Mind Freeze". The line-up, completed by drummer Daniel Wilson, bassist Taylor Hollman and guitarist/backing-vocalist John Tucker are here to make sure that 2020 is their year.

The heavy metal wave has continually crashed against the wider metal shore for the last year or so and it shows no sign of stopping. Haunt, like genre comrades Khemmis, are focusing on catchy and melodic metal. Opening song Light The Beacon contains everything that we’ve come to expect from Haunt over recent years and magnifies it. Melodic vocals, striding guitar-work and drumming to match.

Their sound leans way more towards the traditional end of the heavy metal spectrum and the galloping, up-beat tempos of Hearts On Fire are a perfect example of why Haunt’s music is held in such high regard at the moment. There’s nothing offensive (volume-wise) here and the clean singing will appeal to a wide audience, especially those jumping in from a hard rock direction.

Mind Freeze as a title-track has to be the standout song on the album for me. It’s the longest song on the record and while sometimes, those lengthier songs can lose the listeners attention, Haunt keeps it thanks to some epic guitar work that catches the imagination. Drawing comparisons to Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath may seem lazy, but they make sense when hearing this song and hint at the quality on display.

As well as the obvious traditional heavy metal leanings, there’s also an element of fantasy that’s been brought alive by Haunt, which may have remind you of European bands like Blind Guardian and Hammerfall. Divide And Conquer has that influence, but without the cheese. The synths on Saviours Of Man gives way to a very empowering song, played with focus and urgency. They’re a nice addition to the sound and help to pull you out of that brief fantasy realm.

The empowerment continues on the short but sweet Fight Or Flight. This shorter format of song is used to keep momentum high on “Mind Freeze” and it manages to stay on the right side of being called filler. That’s one term you can’t use when talking about Haunt. There are a lot of bands that try and pull this style off, but who fail to get close and Have No Fear is a song written by a band who’ve transcended that level.

The musicality doesn’t stop there either, as penultimate song On The Stage comes at you with a mix of Ramones-era punk and glam rock. It’s subtly woven in but it’s there and is packaged together really well alongside the band’s metal backbone. Album closer Voyager gives birth to one last head-banging heavy metal anthem and draws a line under an album that highlights a band that’s really maturing and growing.

At this point, I’d like to say that I don’t usually mention as many other bands in my reviews as I have done in this one, but the reason I’ve done it here is because it highlights how widespread Haunt’s fanbase could be on hearing this album. I’m not sure it’s as strong as 2018”s “Burst Into Flame”, but “Mind Freeze” is still an awesome record and the fact that Shadow Kingdom Records has made it available across multiple formats just goes to show the belief that they and the band have in it. That belief is fully justified.

You can stream "Mind Freeze" and purchase it on all formats below:-

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