Haunt – Mind Freeze

Haunt is a band whose body of work seems to grow almost monthly.  With distinct roots in the 1980’s these traditional heavy metal shredders from Fresno California have released Mind Freeze, their third full album in year and a half.  Along with these full length albums Haunt has released myriad EPs and singles.  There is no doubt they are a busy, motivated bunch.

Mind Freeze has a sound consistent to what a metal head should come to expect from Haunt.  If there is a line between heavy rock and traditional metal, Haunt falls just into the metal category.  At times they find a bit softer sound with catchy accessible tunes that arguably skirt the edge of hard rock with never fully crossing into it.  Heavily churning thrash rhythm guitar adds just enough weight to keep them metal.

Hearts on Fire” flowing guitar work and punk rock drums would surely get any crowd whipped up into a thrashing tornado of hair.  It is one of the faster songs on the album and instrumentally packs a pretty good sock to the gut.  The staccato, chugging rhythm guitars are a familiar hold over from the 80s and its always fun to revisit with them.  Sadly this song is one of the few standouts on the album.

The title track to the album greets the listener with a fanny pack stuffed with more 80s cliches.  Stadium rock drum patterns that sound like Tommy Lee and guitar squeals reminiscent of Zakk Wylde are sure to take anyone back to simpler times of pop metal.  Listening to the lyrics and vocals its not hard to imagine two spandex clad glam rockers singing back to back into the same microphone.  This is one of the better songs on the album but still doesn’t offer anything fresh.  It’s a rehashing of the stale.  Songs like this have been done before, and have been done better.

Haunt has a great sound as a band in many ways, their dueling/harmonized guitars create an awesome vibe and sound that is clearly a nod to their 80s metal sound.  It’s fantastic.  Where they may have taken a misstep is their new addition of the synthesizer on this album.  It is to be appreciated that the artists in our society are always pushing and trying for something new.  Challenging oneself  is the only way to improve and grow.  Sadly the challenge to be overcome here is trying to listen to the songs with the synthesizer in the background.  It sounds like someone’s girlfriend just listened to Kraftwerk for the first time and guilted their boyfriend into letting them play on the album.  It is definitely a sound that should have been left in the 80s.  The synthesizer adds nothing musically and sounds heavy handed and out of place.

Mind Freeze feels like an album made out of obligation not inspiration.  Although there are a few redeeming moments on the album, this album should have had some its songs picked and some of them buried.  Just because you can make something doesn’t always mean you should.  Some of the songs on this album come across as filler.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this album but there is nothing inherently right with it either.  This album sounds like it was made by someone’s friend who has a “good band” that has been popular in a small local scene.  Its sad because Haunt is not a “good band”, they are actually a “very good band” and it seems they may be falling prey to an over aggressive release time table.  They should circle the wagons, slow down, and release a few killer albums instead succumbing to watered down mediocrity.  Haunt has proven themselves to be capable of much better than Mind Freeze.  Do yourself a favor, if you want to listen to Haunt, for god sakes put on their first album Burst into Flames buckle up, and hold on, its a ripper.

Track list:

  1. Light the Beacon
  2. Hearts on Fire
  3. Mind Freeze
  4. Divide and Conquer
  5. Saviors of Man
  6. Fight or Flight
  7. Have No Fear
  8. On the Stage
  9. Voyager