I’m slightly under qualified to review Haunt‘s new album Burst Into Flames in that I don’t own a jean jacket or a pair of aviators. I didn’t even listen to this album on cassette at full volume in a Chevy Camaro with the T-Tops off. Despite these crucial setbacks, I feel qualified enough to praise Trevor Church and his newly founded backing band on successfully channelling that classic NWOBHM sound into an album that’s worth blasting at top volume in 2018.
Haunt originally began in 2017 as a solo project for Church before exploding into a full-fledged trio this year. Haunt‘s debut EP Luminous Eyes was a four track solo effort that juxtaposed Church’s doomier efforts in Beastmaker and essentially laid the groundwork for a promising career. Luminous Eyes was good. Maybe a little lacking in the energy department, but a fun, earworm-laden listen. Now Church, backed by an additional guitarist and rhythm section, comes screaming into the world of heavy metal with proof that he’s a forced to be reckoned with.
Burst Into Flame is exactly what Haunt needed to turn heads by the masses. It’s energetic and catchy, and it just nails that classic heavy metal sound so hard. “My Mirage” shuffles along like an old Thin Lizzy track, closer “Looking Glass” fits right in on Iron Maiden‘s Powerslave, and the whole album in general lives in the same realm that 80s Van Halen and Judas Priest does. The beauty of Burst Into Flames that it has no problem wearing its numerous influences proudly like patches on an old battle vest, but never succumbs to sounding like a unimaginative ripoff. Church and crew aren’t trying to reach back in time and pull 80s heavy metal kicking and whining into 2018. Haunt is simply creating a new generation of the genre.
I’d be remiss in my talking about Burst Into Flame without dedicating some time to talking about the album’s killer guitar work. The crunchy riffs and the constant dual guitar attack are more than enough to satiate any heavy metal fan’s appetite. Look no further than the song “Frozen In Time” as a prime example of that. “Frozen In Time” has more quotable licks than some bands have on their entire album and all of them are going to be stuck in your head.
Then are the solos on Burst Into Flame. Oh my god the solos. They shred hard. They quote melodic passages as perfect callbacks to previous portions of the song. Plus I don’t think I’ve heard someone pull off Van Halen-esque tapping solos so tastefully and masterfully since maybe Eddie himself.
Haunt‘s rhythm section also deserves a shout out here. Bassist Matthew Wilhoit and drummer Daniel Wilson add the perfect flourishing colors to Haunt‘s twin axemen, and fortunately are mixed well into the record. When Wilhoit is doing something to counter the guitars, or just providing an interesting backdrop, you can actually hear everything he’s playing. Burst Into Flames is Haunt‘s first record as a band and is meant to showcase everyone equally.
You could put Burst Into Flame on shuffle and still be able to identify every single song. There are a lot of retro-throwback metal bands out there attempt to do what Haunt did right out of the gate, which is to simultaneously floor fellow musicians and snag the casual listener with catchy melodies and huge choruses. Burst Into Flames is the album that’s going to put Haunt on the bills of bigger festivals and in the mouths of a lot more critics, all of which will (or at least should) be singing Haunt‘s praises. Preferably over a galloping drumbeat.
Buy Burst Into Flame here.