Californians Haunt are a prolific mob – this new album is their fifth release in only two years! But if you’re looking for a band that demonstrates a desire to progress from record to record you might be disappointed with the collected works of Trevor William Church and his cohorts thus far.
If Icarus Could Fly is a little more nuanced than it’s predecessors – the production more tight, the playing crisper – but essentially what you get if you sign up for the band’s metal crusade this year is the same as it was at the outset of Haunt’s journey – solid, at times inspired NWoBHM-flavoured heavy metal.
Tracks such as Ghost are mighty derivative, to be sure, but there remains in all of these songs an almost naïve charm that’s hard to resist. I don’t know Church personally, but I’d be willing to bet that the slightly stilted vocal tic he portrays throughout is nowhere near as well as he can really sing, but rather an approximation of the ‘strained’ vocal style shown on so many of those seminal NWoBHM releases back in the day; the attention to detail here is that sharp.
But actually, in much the same way that punk bands matured when they ‘learned how to play’, so much of the material on If Icarus Could Fly is inherently more musical than the examples it apes, if only because the band are already more accomplished musically. Hence at times, the rhythm section sounds just too slick, too well rehearsed for purpose. Clarion is the biggest victim of this state of affairs – the drumming of Daniel Wilson is just too damn proficient! As a result the band come off here sounding more like a late decade (that decade being the eighties, of course) power metal precursor. Still Brit-sounding, sure, but more Marshall Law than Angel Witch.
But for all that, Haunt surely create a highly listenable variant of the traditional HM theme. Songs in the vein of Winds of Destiny and Cosmic Kiss are sure fire winners in this reviewer’s book anytime, and the fact that the band deliver with such precision only makes them all the more appealing. You’ve heard this all before, indubitably – but hearing it again won’t hurt you when the material is this enjoyable!
If Icarus Could Fly is out now.