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Haunt - Beautiful Distraction

Beautiful Distraction
by Jose L. Costa at 21 July 2021, 6:47 AM

It could be that the decline of the NWOBHM scene after 1982 inadvertently led some people to believe it would return in different shapes, styles, and bands as the quantity of participants alone was staggering, even while Punk & Garage Rock was at its peak also.  Amid scarce releases of certain bands becoming even more scarce over time, the concept of newer bands taking up their already treaded course was intriguing, but still so vague for the ensuing difficulty it made clear about how the bands would decide to sound like.

Upon entering the eventful range of years from 1984 - 1994, we see that the perceptions that would help define Metal for the better were suited to be achieved by newcomers in various subgenres. The prosperity of life in this time in the developed world & its state of being helped give rise to many bands across the UK and USA who rolled their own dice, which is to say that they wrote their music without serious concerns for either rejection, or embrace by record labels when the DIY method and work-style was prevalent, and certainly helped play a role in the changing climate of the world of cult bands & their cultural impact on the mainstream, when it was fulfilled.

The so called Power Metal genre waned in between 1990-1998 simply because it had been thought to have run its course after reasonable success in the forms of bands like SAVATAGE, FATES WARNING, ARMORED SAINT, METAL CHURCH, ANVIL, MANOWAR, WARLOCK, ARTCH, ACCEPT, and HELLOWEEN. Weather it was through competition or capitalism, these groups almost single handedly surpassed their forefathers in an outreach for stature & success leading both outsiders & insiders to think from a spectrum of anticipation formed by the "what will they come up with next !?" sense of inquiry as well as the uncertainty from the question of "how long will this creativity last !?"

Enter the Y2K period boasting acts like NOCTURNAL RITES, PRIMAL FEAR, FORCE OF EVIL, ED GUY, ANGEL DUST, ANGRA, GAMMA RAY, WOLF, ICED EARTH, NEVERMORE, STRATOVARIOUS, RHAPSODY, SYNERGY, HOLY GRAIL, and HAMMERFALL. The quantity of these bands denotes serious interest & popularity of these genres, especially in Europe, & even in the beginning of a sort of "anti-hype" which some touted then as an era of Metal's demise as a whole. Therefore the introduction to any one band as a newcomer was dumbfounding as it could barely be known weather the band was to help re-ignite popularity in the subgenres, or to simply acquire wealth in "cash-cow" fashion just as Dave Mustaine of MEGADETH once said publicly that the ubiquitous presence of Metal in popular culture would spawn musicians who were only in on the goal for financial gains, and long before social-media use & popularity as well.

In the case of a relatively recently unleashed band like HAUNT, their latest album certainly bears sincerity in overall feel, but suffers from an obvious "paint-by-numbers" result after the course of 4 albums and an ep. The solos that are present are well played, but bear no special distinction after whatever piercing through the riffs is heard & experienced. It must be stressed that these amounts of tracks were not written overnight, but older fans of NWOBHM already know that inspired or uninspired songs may be equally written in short amounts of time each, making the publishing of such tracks possibly mortifying, not unlike a curtain parting on a stage revealing an actor unexpectedly undressed, or unintentionally nude, therefore disrupting whatever content comes after.

In the rhythm section, the bass & drumming reflect the monotony in arrangements as the verse-to-verse format in lyrics is almost completely unavoidable in all tracks. We hear the vocals of a junior Kevin Heybourne (ANGEL WITCH) in the effort by frontman Trevor William Church, also playing guitar, in tracks with a "Metal Heart" album without failing to have every drumline on each track sound close to being fully identical in each instance. Moreover, the contrast in the album's content with the nature of those classics that preceded it are what help to reveal the album's conspicuously missing aspects: an absence of instrumental tracks, acoustic riffs, blues-rock scales, and neoclassical influences, although the preceding "Mindfreeze" album featured brief inclusions of keyboard-skimming.

It goes without saying that those who are new to Power Metal or any "True Metal" that the original NWOBHM was not without its flaws, and in spite of its popularity, the bands that are still with us such as SAXON, DIAMOND HEAD, VENOM, and ANGEL WITCH are still working hard on new material to mixed reactions at best, & may be the ones to affirm Rock 'n Roll master Lemmy Kilmister 's declaration of how sad it would be to rely on past glory alone in later years. Weather it be "Triumph", or this new album, HAUNT only seems to come across as a band making albums resembling old quizzes from high school which contain correct (or incorrect) answers you've already familiarized with, & do not fully challenge your perceptions, or entice a need to overview one's horizons after the Power Metal acts of the 90's & later supplied a series of soundtracks to go with the subgenre's current Temple and its visitors.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 5
Memorability: 1
Production: 5

2 Star Rating

1. Beautiful Distraction
2. In Our Dreams
3. Fortune's Wheel
4. Face of Danger
5. Sea Of Dreams
6. Keeping Watch
7. Imaginary Borders
8. A Fool's Paradise
9. Hearts on Fire
10. It's In My Hands 
Trevor William Church - Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Andres Alejandro Saldate - Drums
Andy Lei - Guitars
Record Label: Shadow Kingdom Records


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Edited 09 February 2023

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