Haunt The Woods – Opaque
Release Date: 28th February 2020
As storm Jorge ravages the Cornish coastline and a leap day swings in to view, it seems only fitting that an epic new record is birthed into the world – it will be the stuff of future legends. For those not in the know, Haunt the Woods are a four-man collective from the Rame peninsula in Cornwall and from such wild surroundings they have brought us this debut album, ‘Opaque’. The collection opens with a 30 second ‘Intro’ which is essentially a crescendo of static and noise leading to the calming tones of the opening track proper, ‘Elephant’. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a ponderous folk album but the eruption into a Buckley meets early Muse chorus is truly breath-taking and there’s no looking back from this point onward.
‘Amethyst’ settles into a steadier rhythm but loses none of the intensity as the guitars ping and bounce around – a quality that will sound spellbinding in a forthcoming gig which they’re playing in a large cavern in deepest Cornwall. On ‘The Earth is a Rock’ the band explore their Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd tendencies while ‘Architecture’ soothes even the most savage of souls which is handy considering this is a song dealing with the death of relationship. There’s a Fleetwood Mac vibe to ‘Red’ which oozes class and is perfect for the mid-set wind down as the band schmooze the audience with their licks and cool beat. That Jeff Buckley influence is back on ‘Brother’ which, accompanied by the rich vocal harmonies, makes for a luxurious listening before recent single and, frankly, personal favourite ‘Supernova’ blasts into space with dramatic and earth-shattering effect.
I can honestly say that I can’t remember a debut album that has struck me as so exploratory, ambitious and accomplished which is not only high praise, it is also genuinely impressive. Take ‘Fly’, for example. Here we have a track which opens with some sad, silent movie piano lines and a pure, unadulterated vocal and continues in exactly that vein through a beautifully jaunty lament – how many artists would that on with their debut. ‘Vultures’, by contrast, brings the whole band together on an expansive track that speaks of the Cornish landscape and dramatic vistas in the way county cousins Raikes do so well. The vibe on ‘The Box’ is more one of reflection but a shuddering and glorious chorus shakes the reverie before title track ‘Opaque’ does a great job of lulling you into a false sense of security before blasting your misconceptions out of the water.
This debut album from Haunt the Woods finishes on the simply titled ‘Feel’ which is perfect for ending a collection of tracks as it switches between humble piano based verses and the kind of chorus that could fuel a small country if you connected the leads properly. These four guys have taken their time, honed their craft, grown their hair and become greater than the sum of their parts in the most organic, elemental and powerful way I can imagine. This is the kind of album that any band would be proud to make and one that will stand up to numerous repeat listens if you have the inclination….and you really should.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/hauntthewoodsofficial/
6th March – Reen Sounds Live Lounge
7th March – Cavern, Exeter
8th March – Carnglaze Cavern, Liskeard w/Crazy Arm + Tors
9th March – The Louisiana, Bristol
10th March – The Joiners, Southampton
11th March – The Lexington, London
12th March – The Waterfront, Norwich
15th March – Surfcafe, Tynemouth
16th March – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
20th March – Tiny Rebel, Cardiff
6th May – The Minnack Theatre, Cornwall w/Land of the Giants