Burst Into Flame sees Haunt deliver a flawless performance as the band brings the best of 80s traditional heavy metal, with just a dash of old school rock and NWOBHM sounds. Instant classic!
The recent resurgence of classic heavy metal has offered an interesting conundrum. How exactly does one take a critical look at music being made with the sole aim to sound like the work of the 70s and 80s? Where does the inspiration stop and where does absolute mimicry and repetition begin? Each individual may have their own take on these questions. But, when one thinks about how few bands like Eternal Champion and High Spirits manage to stand apart from the crowd, it’s because they manage to give their music their own unique touch. This usually helps with the memorability of the tracks in the listener’s mind. If a song instantly reminds you of the band that actually composed it, rather than the band it sound likes, it is the mark of success for a classic heavy metal act in the 21st century. Haunt do just that.
Based out of California, Haunt started off as the solo project of Trevor William Church (of Beastmaker). Having released the well-received debut EP Luminous Eyes in mid-2017, Trevor went on to recruit more members and the newly complete line-up has returned with a more fleshed-out and well-rounded debut full length album with Burst Into Flame. This is a solid 80s traditional heavy metal record that takes one back to the good old days of Thin Lizzy and Ozzy Osbourne, with just a dash of NWOBHM akin to that of Angel Witch and Saxon.
This album wastes no time as the title track “Burst Into Flame” tears the gates apart with its infectious, blistering lead and catchy rhythm. Guitarist John William Tucker manages to bring in elements of classic hard rock in the vein of Deep Purple, which manages to give the music the classic old-school vibe of its own. “Crystal Ball” takes that classic sound and slightly nudges it towards occult doom rock that quickly reminds one of Sir Lord Baltimore. “Reflectors” offers a catchy chorus and has those AOR vibes that remind one of the radios blasting a Whitesnake single. But, despite all these influences, Haunt never come across as copycats. They bring the power and determination to make these songs truly their own and stamp their authority on each track of the album.
The latter half of the album follows similar trends, as “Wanderlust” sees the band channel their inner early Judas Priest to deliver a punchy rocker of a track. “Heroes” and “Can’t Get Back” see the band bring the galloping NWOBHM riffs to the table as the solos are brimming with pomp and flair, almost sounding equivalent to Iron Maiden at their best.
As mentioned earlier, the addition of a full lineup has certainly resulted in some intricate musicianship on Burst Into Flame, as the experience the band members bring to the table really shines. Coupled with the better production as compared to the Luminous Eyes, it really takes the material to a completely new level. In fact, if I had to find a flaw with Burst Into Flame, I would probably go for the album structure. While delivering an enjoyable performance through its run time, the album never really takes flight as most songs are content with their relaxed pacing. If Haunt had managed to take the tempo up a notch by delivering a few quicker tracks, it would make this experience even better.
Nevertheless, with a run-time of just under 40 minutes, the album delivers a solid slab of old school heavy metal. Each track is crisp and to the point, never overstaying its welcome. Burst Into Flame is a record that is an absolute joy to listen to if one is a fan of the traditional 80s metal. Inspired by the classics, but with skilled musicianship and sheer dedication to the art, Haunt do complete justice to their art. If this era truly brings a revival of traditional heavy metal, Haunt has already left their mark.