Review: Haunt (U.S.) “Burst Into Flame” [Shadow Kingdom records]

Review: Haunt (U.S.) “Burst Into Flame” [Shadow Kingdom records]

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Haunt are a group of young U.S. headbangers that make heavy metal that’s very traditional sounding, but cleansed by today’s sound enhancers and a vast amount of influences to draw from. Burst Into Flame is their first full length, hitting the scene earlier this year, and it’s probably one of the cleanest produced records that I’ve heard this year, in regards to not having much noise. Part of it is due to the fact that it isn’t harsh in any sense at all, and is very much a guitar album, with solos and vigorous licks taking a lot of the forefront. That said, it’s got riffs for days, and is very good with transitions and is packed with strong bridges.

As mentioned, there’s nothing angry or devious about this. A lot of the lyrical contents focus on supernatural subjects and fantastical themes, but mostly refrains from evil. This draws a friendlier environment in the playing, and gives off the same type of energy as something like Canada’s Phantom, rather bands like In Solitude. Some of them even have a sadder vibe to them, such as the song “Reflectors”. No crunch or bite, just heavy guitars with a sorrowful tone and softer singing to overlay. On the contrary, the track before this one “Crystal Ball” is faster and has a magical feel to it. This allows the guitars to rip into strong solos with licks snuck in everywhere, and I mean everywhere! It isn’t just your typical “strong riffs with vocals and then a solo”. It sneaks in shredding pieces all over the place, much like our friend Eddie Van Halen was notorious for.

The mega clean production treats the fret handler John William Tucker very well, as it makes all of the lead guitar sections bust out like a hot knife through butter. Higher elevated tapping is used, as well as low and slow sections that focus more on melody. All of this being said, this actually does cause for one weakness. Since the guitars are so strong and boisterous, it actually shadows everything else out some. The vocals are one thing that I have a bit of an issue with, as they lack the energy that the guitars display, and can’t seem to be up to par with everything else. The range is certainly there, but the delivery sounds somewhat tired. Also, even the drums, as great as they are, can’t be heard super well. With a more even mix, and a bit more umph to the singing, this could have been absolutely spectacular.

Don’t let these drawbacks turn you away, because what does come through is beyond incredible. The melody is insane. The solos and licks are insane. The rhythms that switch between speed picking and slower bounces are insane. Everything about the guitar work in general is beautiful. It’s just that the vocals need more power and the mix could be a little more even. Clean production doesn’t always mean even mix. Not a long album, and it doesn’t get very samey, so Burst Into Flame is well worth your time. Highly suggested for fans of traditional heavy metal and early power metal.

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