HAUNTER - DISCARNATE AILS
ICY BM BLASTS FROM THE FROZEN WASTELANDS OF TEXAS
Prima facie this music is more redolent of desolate Arctic permafrost regions and madcap Nordic blokes in corpse paint rather than dusty, sweaty ‘ol San Antonio, Texas. Indeed, much of the unforgiving drive of Discarnate Alias has a distinctly blackened chill as well as a mendacious atmosphere that points a skeletal finger right at the early protagonists of vintage Nordic BM. This isn’t, however, yet another windswept blast of retro-fetishist nostalgia, as Haunter have a few twisty-prog mod cons clipped to their bullet belts.
The extended introduction of hushed, unnerving, plucked chords doesn’t really prepare the listener for what is to follow as opener Overgrown by the Moss launches into a fairly traditional icy BM spindrift. Propelled by insuperable waves of blast beats and urgent tremolo picks, it has an unsettling and blackened vibe. It’s a long, winding track with rushes, crevices, and time-changes galore over the course of its 11 minutes. In fact, the band could possibly have teased out several songs from this one number. Some of the really heavy parts are not too distant from Scour’s neo-blackness but there are islands of proggy respite with reflective guitar whinnying that helps break up the relentless discordant battery. It also gives the band’s sound something of a stylistic accent that differs from standard-issue Scando-BM.
One element Haunter have nailed quite comprehensively is mood. They create an atmosphere that is at once both cavernous and claustrophobic and spliced with a grim menace that comes straight out of the forested harshness of the Nordic legacy. The progressive and string flourishes or even some episodic submerged melodic passages do not detract from the disconcerting, draconian aesthetic and the record remains consistently anchored in an unerringly sinister tone.
At times Discarnate Ails verges into a type of blackgaze or almost shimmery dark ambience. It recalls the cerebral, absurdly bleak meditative quality often at the core of much BM. This is, of course, perfectly fine but the record can drift into a bit of a hazy netherworld where the mood and vibe win the fight with songcraft. This is arguably most conspicuous during the longer tracks. It is at these points, the listener is most prone to distraction after extended, quasi-hallucinogenic passages. Also, the structure of the album is a little chaotic with long, weaving tracks that tack and turn spontaneously with elements of death, occasional sludge, discordance, frozen BM, thrash and prog flourishes materialising and atomising spontaneously. Now, you could imagine that is entirely what Haunter intended as the very nature of BM is based on subversion of structures and mores. Despite that, though, some of this could be deemed an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach. The 13 minute closer Chained at the Helm of Eschaton is a dizzying blizzard of multi-tempo mini-chapters. Perhaps the inherent chaos is the entire point and neat three minute ditties would hardly suit this music.
That is not to say, however, the riffs, oblique melodies and ideas here not good quality or convincing as they undoubtedly are. When Haunter rampage they can really hammer out some simmering metal riffs and they can also go big on a dissonant atmosphere. Maybe they are just metal diehards playing how the hell the like.
Please give Haunter a listen at their Bandcamp: