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Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Incoming! Prepare to be Haunted...


Over the last five years, the name Haunt has become synonymous with high-quality traditional heavy metal. Based in Fresno, California, the band is the brainchild of singer/guitarist Trevor William Church, who is also known for his inspired work in the doom metal genre with BeastmakerHaunt was conceived as a one-man band to showcase Church's melodic metal songs that did not fit the Beastmaker paradigm. Exploding onto the scene in 2017, Haunt's debut EP Luminous Eyes quickly captured the hearts and imaginations of the underground faithful. The following year, the band released a full-length album, Burst into Flame, to rapturous response from fans and critics alike. Thus, catapulted into the spotlight, Church assembled a live band to perform select shows in the USA. With the passage of time, Haunt's momentum accelerated. The ever-prolific Church wrote, recorded and released new music at a feverish pace, and Haunt's live appearances multiplied throughout North America and Europe.

In April 2022, Haunt proudly release their seventh full-length album, Windows of Your Heart. The writing process for this material dates back to early 2021. Church explains, "There was no conceptual plan. There never is. I just want to write a good song. This was the next collection of riffs and songs I was writing. These eight songs are finished, so here's an album." As is his customary practice, Church isolated himself to write, refine, and record Windows of Your Heart without any outside distractions or collaborators. He elaborates, "This is the nature of my being. I do it for myself. I have so many songs, I'll never get them all out. The creative process happens fast because I'm not working on them with anybody. It works, so this is what I roll with." For the most part, Church adhered to his tried-and-true methodologies for writing and recording this album. That said, discerning listeners will notice a difference in the guitar solos this time around. Whereas on past Haunt albums, the lead breaks were constructed around two-guitar tradeoffs, this time Church reinvented the solos with a single guitar, relying on pinch harmonics and whammy bar as key elements. However, longtime fans will be relieved to know that Haunt's trademark guitar harmonies remain fully intact and unsullied.

As on previous Haunt albums, Church built Windows of Your Heart around a few key songs to be featured in the live set. The title track is one such foundational piece, featuring catchy riffs, big hooks and a slightly different guitar approach for Haunt that straddles the line between heavy metal and hard rock. "I really liked the title," Church relates. "It establishes that this is not a typical steel fantasy warrior album. It's more reality-based." Lyrically, the song was inspired by Church's feelings of sadness during a tour in Europe shortly after his son was born. Although he was far away, Church could still feel present and see his son through the windows of his heart. This kind of relatable, honest, emotional subject matter may not conform to superficial heavy metal stereotypes, but it has always characterized Haunt's music, dating all the way back to the debut EP's "Luminous Eyes," essentially a love song with which anyone can identify.

As for other standout tracks on Windows of Your Heart, Church quickly points to the barn-burning opener, "Mercenaries." "I love doing fast songs live," he enthuses. "Even when we're on bills with heavier bands, we hold our own by bringing thrash into melody." In a different vein is "Father Time," which treads familiar lyrical territory for Haunt by musing on the dizzying speed with which time flies by. The song is also noteworthy for the readily discernible Ozzy-isms in Church's vocal melodies and timbre. The resemblance is not coincidental, but is an intentional tribute to the Prince of Darkness. Church explains, "Ozzy Osbourne gave me the courage to be a singer. He taught me how to be a singer. My music naturally goes toward that."

On the live front, Church suddenly found himself in need of a new band as live shows resumed following the abrupt global hiatus of the concert industry in 2020 and 2021. Fortunately, he assembled a new lineup consisting of his longtime Beastmaker bandmate Andy Saldate on drums, Andy Lei on guitars, and Chris Fletcher on bass. "This is Haunt version 2.0," Church says. "We're out of the beta versions." This new live configuration has already been battletested with eight shows under their belts, and many more to come. Of particular note in Haunt's imminent touring plans is a 20-date run through the western half of the USA in April 2022, supported by Screamer, Traveler and Saber. The trek is highlighted by a stop at the prestigious Hell's Heroes Festival in Houston, Texas on April 23, 2022.

Haunt line-up:
Trevor William Church - vocals/guitar
Andy Lei - guitar
Andy Saldate - drums 
Chris Fletcher - bass 
Haunt online:

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