Summer is coming, and there’s never a better time to indulge in classic heavy metal than during these times. That probably sounds cliched and lame, and I can see where you’re coming from. But my formative years listening to metal came during that time (listening to “Somewhere in Time” in a stifling hot room was a highlight), so anything from that era or speaks to it always sounds best when it’s hot.
I also have a tough time truly embracing newer bands that dig back to the roots, only because so many of them try and strike out, but when one really hits the nail on the head, it’s a revelatory experience. I felt that way first time I heard Haunt’s amazing debut “Burst Into Flames,” an album that landed not even a year ago, and it carries over to their sophomore effort “If Icarus Could Fly,” an eight-track, 30-minute album that flies by in no time and is an absolute blast to hear. It’s pure heavy metal power, the type of album that would have been legendary with masses of people three decades ago when this stuff was at its apex. This project that started as a solo jaunt for Beastmaker’s Trevor William Church has branched out into a four-headed beast that also contains guitarist John Tucker, bassist Taylor Hollman, and drummer Daniel “Wolfy” Wilson, and it is crushing on all cylinders here. These tracks are paced and timed just right, and the amount of power contained within is utterly infectious.
“Run and Hide” gets the record going, and it kicks ass right away, with strong guitars blazing and Church vowing, “We’re not afraid, we’ll take the chances.” Super catchy shit that goes into the blazing solo, with Church wailing, “Stand up! And fight!” as the track marches out. “It’s in My Hands” has a glorious opening riff that powers the track, and Church declares, “I’m the holder of the key.” The chorus is pretty sticky, while the laser-sharp guitars and killer vocal melodies make this a keeper. “Cosmic Kiss” is another that should win favor with anyone looking to have a blast, but there’s also something weird here. The vocal melody over the verses is basically the same from Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun.” Oops. Anyhow, the track is still a strong one as Church calls, “Our love can make it across the galaxy.” “Ghosts” kicks in and pulls things back a bit, especially the vocals. Restraint works here, letting in some introspection, while the guitars glimmer, and things end abruptly.
“Clarion” has guitars fluttering before a faster pace takes charge, and the verses chew and chug. “I look for you when I’m asleep to meet you in my dreams,” Church wails, while the soloing erupts, and the track ends on a fiery note. “Winds of Destiny” has a punchy start with a tastefully vintage sound as the playing sets fire to the night, leaving a blazing, blinding path. The title track follows, and it’s the retelling of the classic story that, of course, warns about flying too close to the sun, especially with wax wings. Guitars spiral while the verses deliver punches, as Church takes on the character, wailing, “Now it’s too late, this is my fate.” Soloing hammers away, with dual guitar tones sending a wave of nostalgia down the spine. “Defender” closes the album, opening with a massive burst and then setting up a classic metal tale about a warrior there to help you face your fears, insisting, “He is the seer of your life.” You know the rest, right? Killer soloing, classic leads as the goddamn cherry on top of the whole thing.
Haunt remain in firm control of their magic conjured from the roots of heavy metal, and “If Icarus Could Fly” is another step ahead for this band that feels like it’s truly understanding its powers. These are eight songs that you can fire up when the sun is bright overhead, the breeze is yawning, and perhaps you’ve just cracked open an icy adult beverage of respectable ABV. This is a record that’s a blast to hear every time you visit and can only fill you with the majesty of true heavy metal.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/hauntthenation/
To buy the album, go here: https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/haunt-united-states.asp
For more on the label, go here: https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/