Prolific American retro metallists Haunt are back with a fresh collection of simple, direct and tuneful heavy metal – should this be a matter for celebration?

Well, any metal is better than no metal at all, obviously, and there’s certainly a lot of ferrous matter to be found within the grooves of Golden Arm; Band leading light Trevor William Church has dug deep here, coming up with a nice, varied set of tunes designed to appeal to fans across metal’s broad spectrum of tastes. As well as being a fecund songwriter, he plays everything himself, save for some solos from the band’s live lead player Andy Lei, and there’s no denying that that gives a pleasing sense of uniformity across the band’s albums.

Opener Hit and Run could easily have featured on any of the band’s last three albums, and that sense of familiarity is often a plus for fans of trad metal; Indeed all of the songs here carry Church’s trademark formula for trad metal success – simple, direct riffage, easy-to-digest vocal melodies and fast, devil-take-the-hindmost solos. The addition of icy synths here and there gives the new listener easy pointers to the tracks with more ‘radio appeal’, but for the most part this is heads down, unapologetically traditional heavy metal. And none the worse for that.

Piece By Piece, whilst not being the best track on the album, probably demonstrates the Church playbook best, building from a deceptively new-wavish synth n’drum intro and moving through the gears to a singalong chorus and shredding solo; It’s hard to resist but to this reviewer tracks like this and the similarly melodic Chimera only tell part of the story, which is completed in satisfying fashion by standout track, album closer The Horses Mouth, which is an altogether heavier proposition; built on a groove in the verses not dissimilar to Sacred Reich‘s Independent, it brings a welcome thrash edge to proceedings.

Golden Arm releases on May 5th.