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Will Haven – Muerte album review

Bleak noise and controlled chaos from Will Haven with Muerte

Will Haven Muerte
Muerte

Will Haven – Muerte album cover

1. Hewed With The Brand
2. Winds Of Change
3. Kinney
4. The Son
5. 43
6. No Escape
7. Unit K
8. Ladwig No. 949
9. Bootstraps
10. Now In The Ashes
11. El Sol

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The Dillinger Escape Plan have deserted us, but don’t be too down – fans of deliciously horrible noise metal can cast off their mourning robes and look ahead, safe in the knowledge we still have Will Haven out there fighting the good fight. Their sixth album, Muerte – the Spanish, of course, for death – is aptly titled. Dense and suffocating, brutal and grave, it offers little in the way of light relief or hope, and a lot in the way of despair and a creeping sense of paranoia. The weighty, oppressive basslines provided by Adrien Contreras press down on your chest like a heart attack, while drummer Mitch Wheeler and guitarist Jeff Irwin rain down blows with clinical and merciless precision. And then there’s the controlled chaos of frontman Grady Avenell, screaming from the depths of hell, an anguished howl of despair. Winds Of Change (not that one – there’s no whistling here) is, in particular and in the best possible sense, a total horror show, its ultra-heavy landslide of sludge made all the more oppressive for its stabs of arhythmic, vicious guitar, gloom-ridden, atmospheric keyboards and floating demonic voices.

The choice of guests is impeccable, too. Yob’s Mike Scheidt lends his mournful vocals to the sprawling, psychedelic No Escape, which spirals out into a siren song from a female vocalist hinting at certain doom ahead. Closing track El Sol, meanwhile, was co-written with Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter, and is a leaden, crushing epic that leaves a nagging sense of unease long after it’s faded into blackness.

We’re living in dark days, politically and environmentally, and Will Haven have perfectly summed up the sense of staring into the void and succumbing to complete terror and powerlessness. Muerte’s exquisite bleakness is Will Haven at their doomsday-heralding best. Give yourself over to the fear.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.