At the rate that Haunt puts out albums and EPs, it’s damn-near impossible to keep up with them. Both of their full-lengths Burst Into Flames (2018) and If Icarus Could Fly (2019) made my year-end lists for those respective years. But I will admit that when you include the EPs, things start to sound like a change is needed. That’s where their newest effort Mind Freeze comes into play. It doesn’t step very far from the formula that boosted Trevor and co. to large extents, but some different strategies are clearly present.
The obvious one is the addition of synth almost everywhere, which opens the album in the beginning of “Light The Beacon.” This is executed in a style popularized in modern synth-wave more than anything retro. I can’t say the same about the overall construction, though. The addition of clearer backing vocals teamed up with that to give many ties to glam metal glitter. You can pick this up in the chorus of “Hearts On Fire” very easily. But if you’re not a glam freak like me, don’t panic. It doesn’t cast anything enormous over the traditional metal roots, and that song is still rather speed metal oriented at its core.
The further into Mind Freeze that you dive, the more you can also get a whiff of power metal. “Fight OR Flight” will drop this with energetic and swift attacks, also ringing in some speed metal. But epic passages even surface by the time you reach songs like “Divide And Conquer” just because of the calm but powerful emotion. The song rupturing into a strong solo is just icing on the cake. “Have No Fear” takes the more somber ideas that weave in and out, and slaps a feeling of hope to them, which I thought was beautiful.
Weirdly enough, as the songwriting is the tightest it has ever been, the mix is some of the sloppiest. This is not a fault at all; the drums standing apart from the mix made for something pleasant. Not only did it give this some more identity of its own, but it also helped the melodies stand apart from one-another even more. The title track was the most notable for that. Most importantly, everything feels fluid since all the songs sit flawlessly in place.
I have a bad habit of jumping on the hype-train too quickly with Haunt albums, seeing that the previous full-length wasn’t as perfect as I initially thought. But I have more confidence with Mind Freeze just from how memorable it is on its own. While I write this, I’m working at home due to snow and ice. This record’s cooler atmosphere and hopeful but sorrowful energy really fit the winter setting, and the standout identities that I find here are tremendous. Essential hearing for anyone into heavy, glam, speed, and traditional metal.
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