ARTIST: WILL HAVEN
LABEL: MINUS HEAD RECORDS
If you’re a sucker for the time when ‘metalcore’ wasn’t considered a dirty word, then you’re probably familiar with Will Haven. For those uninitiated, Will Haven was one of the most key bands in a flourishing metal/hardcore scene of the late 90’s, which bled into the 00’s. A scene that saw a ton of bands further blur the line between the two genres to great effect, the best doing it wholly their own way and influencing much of what was to follow.
On records like El Diablo and Carpe Diem, Will Haven was crushing with the best of them and their thing was having a hazy, noir layer over their direct, brick-to-the-face riffs and guttural screeching. They were of course amongst the best heavy bands then and with Muerte, they’re amongst the best heavy bands now.
“Will Haven was crushing with the best of them.”
Admittedly, not a whole lot has changed in Will Haven’s approach this time around. The guitars chug fairly straightforwardly, played at firm grooves to lock you in, breakdowns that will have you wanting to flip a desk and sprinkles of dizzy atmospherics. However, what’s impressive about Muerte is that it sees Will Haven sticking to their guns, doing what they’ve always done and it feeling fucking vital, fresh and ready to ignite pits in 2018.
After the build-up of opening track ‘Hewed With The Brand’, the tension is released in the form of a sledgehammer riff so full of spunk and swing, that your nan would want to spin-kick to it. Winds Of Change is senseless angular jittering that manages to organically shift into more serene, out-of-body territory, giving you the best of both worlds.
43 is an avalanche of clobbering guitar-stabs that go in this merry-go-round of hitting you from the top with lower notes, then gutting you with a speedy high-pitched climb of the fretboard. However, at the halfway point it sucker punches you with the song pulling a 180 into doomier, atmospheric dynamic like you’d get with post-metal bands.
“Will Haven carry a hefty amount of energy and firepower with Muerte”
Despite a band that are over 20 years old and having been away from the game for a few years, Will Haven carry a hefty amount of energy and firepower with Muerte. The album’s title is Spanish for ‘death’, a title they chose at the start of making this record when they believed this could well be the band’s final hurrah, but everything here still so full of life, promise and an overall feeling of a classic band getting a second-wind that they might as well have called the record ‘Rebirth’ (or whatever the Spanish word for it is).
Obviously, if you check out this record, you probably know who Will Haven are and whilst this record does have a strong sense of an older band using all of the wisdom and experience they’ve accumulated for the best, there is simultaneously strong youthful vibrancy to it too. Granted it wouldn’t happen in the internet age, but you could see kid new to metal discovering this and having no reason not to believe that this isn’t a debut album from a band of people in their 20’s.
Comeback albums don’t get much better than this, where this can be someone’s introduction to a band and it’s as good a solid start of any of their classic stuff. Whether you’re initiated or not, be sure not to let this one pass you by.
WORDS: MAX CUSSON