Firstly, let me warn you that those of you who were looking forward to or expecting some Sleep style guerilla release of Swedish Extreme metal, like me, you’d be wrong. This is Haunted, Italian purveyors of some classic occult tinged doom, and follow up to their eponymous 2016 debut, and if, again like me, you were unaware of the band, ‘Dayburner’ is surely the album to boost their profile beyond the Mediterranean.
If you are a worshipper of the down-tuned and heavy, opener ‘Mourning Sun’ delivers the riff to go with your spliff in fine and epic style, thunderous bass lines guaranteed to rattle the bones of your rib cage in a stark contrast to the clean and hypnotic vocals of Christina Chimirri that fly above the swirling dark morass of the music. Things get even slower and darker with ‘Waterdawn’, drum beats slogging along like the dance steps of a 90’s Goth in a their spiderweb jumper trying not to disturb their back combed hair; hell, I may have just thought that up as a joke, but with its dark musical mood and the soaring sustained delivery of the lyrics, this is an album and band that may well attract those pale skinned denizens of that musical subculture every bit as much as the denim cut off and flare wearing followers of Electric Wizard. This crossover appeal is no more evident than in the stripped back acoustic opening of title track ‘Dayburner’, a single strummed guitar accompanying a siren’s call before the amps are switched on for some full on Iommi worshipping riffery.
After painting a brief and darkly psychedelic soundscape with ‘Communion’ Haunted then enter the realms of the epically heavy with ‘Orphic’ and ‘Vespatine’ two tracks that combined in length could well fill an album on their own. On the former with the addition of the some vocal distortion and layering, the band roam into a territory that is rightfully dominated by ‘Windhand’, the vocals drifting laconically through the sludge laid down by the instruments, whilst on the latter the pace picks up as Ms Chimirri cries and wails her way through the wall of sound. After the reverb heavy unaccompanied guitar of ‘No Connection With The Dust’, a track that screams of an twanging intro by The Mission, the album finishes with ‘Lunar Grave’ where all the darkness and melancholy of the preceding tracks is distilled down into one movement, the instruments merging with a ceremonial chant that first hides far back in the mix before building up to a dominant liturgy.
As an act comparatively new to the scene, Haunted will undoubtedly garner comparison to such established acts as Jex Thoth or Alunah, and most definitely Windhand, but that is not to dismiss the power and presence of the band. I for one am more than happy to see more penis-backed bands (“female-fronted” is not a genre folks, and many thanks for letting me steal your line Sophie) out there, and as soon as this review is off to the editor, I’ll be searching out Haunted’s first album for a listen.