Haunter – Discarnate Ails – Album Review

Artist: Haunter

Album Title: Discarnate Ails

Label: Profound Lore Records

Date of Release: 6 May 2022

Apparently, when they formed nearly a decade ago, Haunter were considered more a screamo band than anything else. This explains why the San Antonio, Texas-based quartet never made it onto my radar previously. However, based on the content of ‘Discarnate Ails’, their third full-length album, any notion that Haunter remain within the screamo scene are swiftly and mercilessly extinguished. What I’m presented with here, is something far more interesting for my tastes, because ‘Discarnate Ails’ is pure unadulterated technical, progressive death metal, with a hint of black metal nastiness for good measure. If you’re not put off by this description, I urge you to read on.

Having grabbed your attention though, I feel the need to let a little bit of air out of your tyres by addressing the one main complaint I have about this album, which is that ‘Discarnate Ails’ is simply too short. It has a run-time of just 31 minutes and 34 seconds, spread across just three songs. Three. I know all too well that I have criticised bands ad nauseum about creating albums that are far too long, and I’m also acutely aware that some of the very best albums of all time nestle around the half-hour mark. On this occasion, however, I can’t help but feel that the Americans could have offered us maybe one more track along the way. Feel free to disagree, but it’s just how I feel.

Gratifyingly however, that’s pretty much where the negatively starts and ends. And that’s because once you start listening to the music on this record, you can’t help but be impressed. And I’m impressed for a number of reasons if truth be told. In my world, there can never be too much melody, but what Haunter have managed to do here is walk a fine line between creating music that is evil, spiteful, and incredibly heavy, whilst also lacing it with just enough melody to keep those of a similar disposition to me reasonably happy. Ok, so ‘happy’ might be the wrong word in the context of a record like this, but you hopefully get my meaning.

What makes this feat all the more impressive, is that Haunter are not afraid to use dissonance and other uncomfortable techniques to heighten the sense of malevolence and violence within their compositions. The tempo and direction of the material undergoes frequent shifts, where all-out aggression is suddenly met by a calmer, more atmospheric passage, albeit equally as uncompromising, just delivered in a different manner. In fact, it’s the layers of sound, the textures, the abundance of ideas and inspiration that makes one of the biggest impacts here. You never quite know what’s coming next, but you know that whatever it is will be worth listening to. And you know that the music will literally be alive with dark, venomous atmosphere throughout. On that score, there is barely any let-up whatsoever.

Naturally, the technical abilities of the band are out of the very top drawer. Drummer Mark Cruz litters the album with blasts, incredibly fast fills, and intricate detail, whilst the guitar duo of Enrique Bonilla and Bradley Tiffin create riff after savage riff. These riffs straddle the black and death metal genres cleverly too, as they are both chunky and fast-picked depending on the sequence at hand. But, in addition, there are plenty of clever clean parts that seemingly only add to the dissonance on offer, as well as a few well-placed lead parts that add to the overall sound. This isn’t an album of ostentatious lead dexterity, but I find it just as rewarding without this facet in actual fact. Bassist Cole Tucker is the newbie of the band, joining in 2020, but he fits right in, beefing up the rhythm section, but also offering some technical dexterity of his own when the material calls upon him to do so.

And then there are the vocals that are performed by Bradley Tiffin. Sometimes within this genre, the vocals can be a bit of an afterthought, as the main focus is often the instrumentation. However, Tiffin is impressive, adding real value to the album with a varied approach that sees him screeching like a possessed demon one second, before unleashing a deep, rumbling growl the next. As with the guitar riffs, it is this clever, varied vocal delivery that helps to justify the hybrid death/black metal description applied to the band.

Given that there are only three songs, and that the album is better enjoyed as a single homogenous piece of music, it feels a little redundant to go into an individual, detailed analysis of each. However, there are moments that are definitely worth highlighting along the way. For example, I do really enjoy the way in which the album both begins and ends, namely in quiet fashion, with clean guitar notes intertwined with resonant bass accents at the start, and subtle synths at the end. In my mind, it sets the atmospheric tone of the album, as well as providing a nice symmetry to proceedings. Additionally, the more I listen to the opening composition, ‘Overgrown With The Moss’, the more I find within it in terms of subtle, insidious melody, and the more I enjoy it as a result. But then, that’s entirely true of this entire venture if truth be told.

The final piece to this impressive jigsaw is the production of the album. There are one or two occasions, as within the latter stages of the closing track, ‘Chained At The Helm Of The Eschaton’, where the snare drum becomes a bit too overpowering, but for the most part, the mix allows clarity for each instrument without ever undermining the power that the music possesses. All of this means that I have come to be thoroughly impressed with Haunter and with ‘Discarnate Ails’. It’s another great find that I’m delighted to be able to offer my thoughts about and hopefully help spread the word in a small way. Get on this record if you like progressive death/black metal; it might be a little on the short side, but it packs one hell of a punch.

The Score of Much Metal: 85%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

Demonical – Mass Destroyer

I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s