Haunter – Sacramental Death Qualia (Review)

Haunter - Sacramental Death QualiaThis is the second album from US black/death metallers Haunter.

Sacramental Death Qualia is a mutant, constantly-shifting hybrid of progressive black/death metal. Mixing impenetrable dissonance with grim blackened melody and classic progressive beauty, the music combines darkness and light in such way that it can be almost jarring on first listen. Once you adapt to the band’s atypical nature, however, it soon becomes apparent that Haunter have produced an album that has hit upon something special.

The promo blurb mentions Gorguts, Immolation, and early Opeth. I can see why; cover these references in a cloak of blackened darkness, and you have an idea of what Sacramental Death Qualia sounds like. The ghost of Opeth in particular haunts the band in their progressive elements and melodies, but thankfully Haunter are their own masters more than they’re not. The band are good at taming this unfettered creation of theirs, and the music is greater than the sum of its impressive parts.

Complex and imposing, while also being surprisingly accessible at times, there’s a lot of depth and rich songwriting to be savoured here. As well as abrasive aggression, it’s the moments of almost-uplifting mood and forcefully channelled negative energy that stand out on this album. It’s impressive how the music’s presence can conjure images of wide open vistas through acoustic depth one moment, while providing an unfriendly, claustrophobic experience through unforgiving atmosphere the next.

Sacramental Death Qualia is a very enjoyable album, one with a lot of substance to lose yourself in. I heartily recommend it.

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