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HAUNT - Mind Freeze

Release date January 10/20 (Shadow Kingdom)

Mind Freeze is the third full length release in the last three years by California’s Haunt, a traditional heavy metal band led by guitarist, vocalist Trevor William Church. The main strengths of this effort are in the song writing, with memorable hooks and riffs, and in the first rate guitar harmonies provided by Church and John Tucker. Drummer Daniel Wilson keeps things moving in a professional manner, but bassist Taylor Hollman’s instrument should have been higher in the mix.

The highlights of the album are the faster tracks, with speed and catchy guitar phrasings reminiscent of Helloween at their peak as found in “Hearts on Fire”, “Fight or Flight” and “On the Stage”. There are no bad songs on this album, but the weakest would be the title track, which is a bit of a plodder, and leads to wandering minds half way through, rather than frozen ones.

There are occasional keyboard flourishes on most of the songs that really don’t meld well with heavy metal (except for the odd, creepy intro), but they are not present or prevalent enough to really distract or detract from the proceedings.

The one (and only) weakness on this album are the lead vocals, but this problem is big enough that it really is an Achilles’ heal for the entire band and its product. Church’s vocals are thin and unremarkable (although video shows they do come through the mix in a live setting). They are too clean to really be interesting in an extreme metal sense, but not powerful enough and with too limited a range to carry the songs as a crooner. It is Church’s band, so it is unlikely he will be convinced to go out and find a lead vocalist, but one wonders if Hollman or Tucker are able to handle some of the lead vocal duties to at least give the band a bit of variety in that department.

In any event, if you are a fan of traditional metal with a helping of speed thrown in, give this album a spin. If the vocals are more to your taste than they are to mine, this will be a keeper.

(7.5)

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