The work ethic of Haunt—more specifically the man behind the band, Trevor William Church—is really something to behold. Four great albums in roughly a year’s time is a pretty impressive feat. How about five in two years? Easy, right? Now try doing that while playing in other bands and running Church Recordings home of, among others, Saber (featured in the February 2 Beaver Buzz). To top it off, each release bursts with classic, moody, and fast metal. And because that’s too easy, why not do it in the most punk DIY way possible, all while maintaining a close relationship with fans on social media? That, my friend, is some passion and it shines through in the music.
Beautiful Distraction is a blistering, but also melodic, classic metal record. Church assembled six new songs along with four re-recordings for the album. The songs stack up well with the rest of the Haunt catalogue to create a must-own for anyone who loves classic metal. This album is worth it to purchase just for the artwork and likely interesting vinyl options alone.
Subtle differences from album to album crop up. But you can always count on that Haunt mood built on layers of keyboards and guitars, the key to their brand of classic metal. Beautiful Distraction strikes a more positive tone than earlier records, while still sticking to the roots of Haunt‘s unmistakable sound. That being said, this album is very much Haunt being Haunt, just a bit more of an optimistic version.
Haunt Being Haunt, With a Twist
The album was recorded late in autumn and winter of 2021, some of the darkest days of the COVID 19 pandemic. This time period will likely spawn darker music, but Haunt seems to have a more upbeat outlook.
The song “Beautiful Distraction” leads off with an exceptional song lyrically and musically. Lyrically, it’s one of the most mature, and well-written Haunt songs. It’s catchy and has been stuck in my head for weeks.
A perfect follow-up, “In Our Dreams” pushes the album forward with yet another genuine, fast, and accessible song. The opening riff commands you to immediately summon your air guitar. The energy, again, is optimistic and hopeful.
A reworked version of “Hearts on Fire” from Mind Freeze (a top 10 album from 2020) fits into the theme perfectly. Church‘s heart is definitely on fire as he consistently delivers for Haunt fans. There are subtle differences between the versions, but there isn’t much doubt that the Beautiful Distraction version sounds better.
“Hearts on Fire” wasn’t the only reworked version. Church was experimenting with new equipment and, after working on a couple songs he decided to release them on Beautiful Distraction.
“Sea of Dreams” is updated from an early recording on the Haunt/Seven Sisters split. The keyboards on this version are much more subtle and effective. It sounds better and has a killer new solo.
From the Haunt/Fortress split, “A Fool’s Paradise” also takes the more subtle keyboard approach. I actually like the original version’s take better. The updated solo is a different take, but both versions rip. Regardless, it’s great to have these songs available on physical media.
The ghostly feel of so many Haunt songs is on full display in the overhauled version of “It’s In My Hands“. The original version off If Icarus Could Fly is a bit crunchier, but some people like smooth peanut butter and others like chunky. Church keeps the duelling guitar type solo with distinctive alterations.
From the darkest days of the pandemic comes Haunt full of optimism, but still with their signature atmosphere. In a world where streaming services throw pennies at artists, Haunt is doing it right by out-hustling just about any band out there.
Known for guesting on albums for other bands, Church brought in Fili Bibiano (Fortress) to play lead guitar with him. The result is a gem of an album. Beautiful Distraction should be another stepping stone in a hopefully long career. The title track and “In Our Dreams” are instant classics.
Also, find more of my CGCM reviews here: Dave Wilks