Will Haven – ‘Muerte’

By Liam Knowles

Will Haven have been an under-celebrated, but extremely influential, band since the release of ‘El Diablo’ way back in 1997, and despite never quite becoming a household name themselves they’ve cemented a position of extreme respect amongst their peers, collaborating with members of Deftones, Slipknot and Far, amongst others, along the way. ‘Muerte’ is the band’s sixth full-length record, their first for Minus Head Records, and it will come as a surprise to no-one that it’s really, really heavy.

Opening track ‘Hewed With The Brand’ creeps in with eerie female voices before Grady Avenell’s unmistakable howl obliterates the silence and urgently ushers in the rest of the band. The guitar tone hits low and hard in a way that would be verging on djent if it sounded at all clinical, but instead it’s warm and natural, and when combined with the razor-sharp rhythm section carries a palpable weight that few bands can emulate.

Things slow down about halfway through ‘Winds Of Change’, with the band playing around with samples and hypnotic, post-metal rhythms, but the impact is no less than on the faster tracks. This isn’t the only moment Will Haven step out of their sludgy comfort zone; the unwavering psychedelic filth of ‘No Escape’ is bound to throw a few listeners as guest vocalist Mike Scheidt (of doom-metal stalwarts Yob) lends his haunting voice to this behemoth of a track. We’re also treated to some Tarantino-esque clean chord progressions on ‘The Son’. The band’s experience shows in the quality of the writing, as these more subtle elements slot perfectly into place, nestled snugly between the meaty slabs of riff we’ve come to expect.

Will Haven’s core sound hasn’t changed much since the band’s inception over two decades ago, but they’ve honed and refined that sound to be very much their own; the perfect version of what they originally set out to create. ‘Muerte’ is the sound of a band who have refused to adapt their mission statement in the face of changing trends, and they sound all the stronger for it.

LIAM KNOWLES

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