This is the second album from Texans Haunter, who have been going for 6 years. Identified points of reference for this band are Gorguts and Immolation, but that’s just the death metal element.
The album unleashes without delay a ball of fury – black metal style drumming, the withering strains of death metal guitars, and rasping vocals. I particularly liked the expansive sound effects, which fill the air with ghastliness. In fact “Dispossessed Phrenic Activity” is a piece of many movements. From time to time it breaks off into a distinctly Opeth style passage before returning into the sombre and beastly world which it characterises. The trick was going to be building on this. “Spoils Vultured Upon Sole Deletion” starts with an Opeth inspired epic passage, complete with Akerfeldian growls. Searing death metal transforms into a delicate atmosphere and intrigue before reverting to dirty chaos laden death metal. The lack of obvious pattern led me to note a progressive element, but whether it has that or not the transforming structures have purpose and never deviate from the obscure world that is being depicted here. “Spoils Vultured Upon Sole Deletion” ends quietly but where this has led us or is leading us to is unclear. I looked at the lyrics for enlightenment, but they are as bombastic as the music. By contrast “Abdication” is an atmosphere laden instrumental, quietly creating an aura like Opeth’s “Deliverance” or April Ethereal. “Subversion of a Heathen Tongue” then takes us back into the world of death and suffering. There’s no letting us off the hook here. Five minutes into this death metal composition, there’s a short black metal section which wouldn’t be out of place on a Khold album. Then we switch to its lingering finale, which leads into the acoustic start of the twelve minute title track. The atmosphere builds, aided by the patient drum patter. There’s a haunting backdrop and I felt that the tension was going to be broken. To my surprise, the acoustic line returned and “Sacramental Death Qualia” became more introspective, eventually bursting out of its shell. What follows is a mixture of heaviness, haunting lines and the epic tones of that Swedish band I’ve mentioned a couple of times. Yet with a couple of minutes to go, there’s a break and an outpouring of death metal, coupled with the musical representation of what I can only describe as epic chaos.
“Sacramental Death Qualia” is an interesting album. I hear epic atmospheres being created as Haunter alternate between the placement of transforming violent and reflective mists in front of our eyes. Passages build on passages, causing the scene to change constantly. My only reservation is with the continuity. I couldn’t really detect any. Yet I couldn’t say that any of the five pieces developed illogically, nor that the structures within the tracks are flawed. They’re fine. I wasn’t always up with the band’s ideas or the concept behind the album’s evolution here, but I do commend Haunter for creating something powerful.
(7/10 Andrew Doherty)