When listening to Haunt’s first full-length album Burst Into Flame, it’s clear that the project got a serious shot in the arm since the release of 2017’s Luminous Eyes EP. Burst into Flame adheres to the same lo-fi classic metal template, but the execution is more energetic and almost urgent this time around. Much of this could be attributed to main man Trevor William Church expanding the lineup to a full quartet but the way these songs are written suggests that this was all part of the plan.
A full lineup has certainly resulted in some intricate musicianship. The drums pack a stronger punch this time around, occasionally driving song tempos to near speed metal levels, and there is an even greater emphasis on bright guitar harmonies and choppy rhythms. On the flip side, the vocals retain their same nasally tone that’s likely always going to be part of Haunt’s character. It worked for Goat Horn a decade ago, and it works just as well here.
Burst into Flame also happens to be a hooky affair and the consistently brief runtimes keep songs from overstaying their welcome. “Reflectors” and “Can’t Get Back” may be the album’s most accessible tracks, with upbeat chugs and catchy choruses that keep their middle of the road tempos interesting. Elsewhere, “Frozen in Time” stands out for its especially melodic vocals while the bouncy “My Mirage” proves that Gygax isn’t the only new band that can pull off the Thin Lizzy shuffle. There may still be a couple moments where one could hope for a little extra oomph, but the earworms more than make up for it.
Like Luminous Eyes before it, Haunt’s first full-length album is strongly recommended to those who want a perfect balance of grit and melody in their traditional metal. The songwriting is about even over the two releases, but the intricate musicianship and more fleshed out styles on Burst into Flame give it the inevitably superior edge. There’s a lot of crossover potential on here and I really hope Haunt can get to the next level before Mr. Church works himself to death…
“Frozen in Time”
“Can’t Get Back”