Haunt – “Mind Freeze” CD / LP / Tape (Shadow Kingdom)
Battle Helm Rating
By now firmly regarded as one of the names in the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal alongside bands like Night Demon and Visigoth, this 3rd release by Haunt will only serve to cement their reputation even further as uncompromising purveyors of that style. Centred around the vision of founder / guitarist / vocalist Trevor Church (also the frontman of Beastmaker), Haunt’s humble beginnings can be traced its initial solo start before evolving into a full blown band responsible for a rapid fire succession of full length album releases that have built the band’s name almost just as quickly! With the grooves reflecting aspects of Maiden, Riot and Manilla Road along with Sabbathy aspects in Church’s Ozzy-esque vocals, not to mention his shared guitar sound with lead axeman John Tucker, the 9 tracks are a no frills reflection of true metal purity through heavy but catchy riffs, plenty of memorable hooks, solo guitar wizardry, and a range of styles from fast numbers to slower, more epicly tinged pieces. Rooted crucially in the genius blossom when late 70s hard rock gave rise to early 80s heavy metal, Haunt’s music will undeniably appeal to anyone forged in that time, along with more youthful generations of aficionados. Chugging in with gusto on ‘Hearts On Fire’, Church’s wailings sail atop the frantic riffing and chopping percussion, paving the way for the short but catchy chorus topped by some par excellence guitar solos. It’s not just the intelligent arrangements, but lots of passion that really makes “Mind Freeze” so special, following the original heavy metal formula of weaving emotional elements into headbanging heaviness such as on ‘Divide And Conquer’, which also includes ambient aspects before even more sterling soloing from Tucker and Church cap it all off brilliantly! Likewise, the use of different tempos to great effect on ‘Have No Fear’ really makes the track, keeping it exciting through ever evolving twists and yet again featuring the brilliant guitar work from the two aforementioned gentlemen be it in breaks, fast licks and majestic soloing. Fave track for me was the hugely memorable ‘On The Stage’ with its ultra catchy chorus graced by harmonies, yet driven by chugging riffing all with a syrup thick sound – totally irresistible! If anyone out there thinks heavy metal is dead, then try telling that to Trevor Church and Haunt.