If there’s one thing that I respect about Haunt, it’s their ability to keep a near-literal constant stream of releases from getting too interchangeable. The group never strays too far from a classic metal core, but each effort comes with a distinct flavor. It’s something that just about every band goes through, but putting out multiple albums and EPs within months of each other allows listeners to witness this evolution in as close to real-time as one can get.
A heightened synth presence immediately sets Haunt’s third album, Mind Freeze, apart from its predecessors. They’re most prominent on the swelling introductions of songs like the opening “Light the Beacon,” but one can always detect them subtly wafting throughout. There’s not much technicality to the playing beyond held out patches and simple arpeggios, but their contrasts with the often-frantic guitar work makes the songs more dramatic and even emotional compared to past tracks.
From there, the other instruments build on the glam tinges that were developing on If Icarus Could Fly. The guitars remain at the center of attention, continuing to invoke those mid-80s Ozzy influences as a glossy tone builds a solid foundation for choppy shredding. The drums also sound heavier than ever before, thanks to a hefty boost in the mix and healthy helpings of reverb. Through it all, the vocals keep to the same mid-range wail with occasional layering.
And like Haunt’s other outings, there are plenty of strong gems on Mind Freeze. The title track is an early standout thanks to its smooth pacing, appropriately icy synths, and one of the album’s more encouraging choruses. “Saviours of Man” takes those glam elements even further with its bouncy tempo and scaled back guitar emphasis. The album also puts in some atmosphere courtesy of the tempo fluctuations on “Have No Fear.”
At the end of the day, it’s nice to see Haunt offer differing takes on their old school metal formula at such a fast rate without running on fumes. A longer runtime allows for more fleshed-out songwriting compared to If Icarus Could Fly, and the expanded band dynamic gives it a touch more power than 2018’s Burst into Flame. The band is still building up their momentum quite nicely, and the same will likely be said for the inevitable follow-up that’ll be out in six months or so.
“Saviours of Man”
“Have No Fear”