It’s nice to see Italy’s Haunted show some growth on their second full-length album. Dayburner is longer than the band’s 2016 debut on all counts, boasting a runtime that’s twenty minutes longer and a higher number of tracks that never go below the eight-minute mark (We all know interludes don’t count). The actual compositions also demonstrate more ambitious buildups and the melodies are somehow even more ominous than before. There’s an overall sense that the band wants to move beyond the blatant albeit enjoyable Windhand worship of their debut.
However, this execution gets rather awkward when one realizes that Windhand used similar measures to broaden their own sound. Grief’s Infernal Flower similarly featured acoustic expansions and ten-plus minute long epics stacked on one another. That’s not even going into just about every song featuring similarly murky waltz-like rhythms all going at what may very well be the same droned out tempo.
But as harsh as I probably sound, Haunted is pretty good at what they do, and Dayburner does feature some great songs on it. Songs like the opening “Mourning Sun” and the title track do feature rock solid riffs, but the second half’s almost ambient direction is where things get interesting. The thirteen-minute-long “Vespertine” stands out for its subdued bass intro transitioning to the album’s most elaborate riffs, and the extended introduction on “Lunar Grave” makes for a climactic closer.
Haunted’s debut may be my personal preference due to its more straightforward and catchy riff sets, but Dayburner is a solid step forward. The album is still rather derivative, but the broadened dynamics do show that the band is at least willing to look at the style from different angles. I’ll be curious to see how Haunted could further evolve to better serve an individual identity but Dayburner and its predecessor will continue to be sweet occult doom comfort food.