Review: Haunted ‘Stare At Nothing’

Formed in 2015, the Italian band Haunted have never been picked up on my radar. I’m not too sure why, I like to believe that I have quite a full scope when it comes to bands, although admittedly in my forty-nine years on the planet, there have been a couple of times when bands have fallen through the cracks, and it’s only now, years later, that I am picking up on them.

Haunted 'Stare At Nothing' Artwork
Haunted ‘Stare At Nothing’ Artwork

I guess in part, they have eluded me because of my hectic lifestyle, and, living in the United Kingdom, my knowledge of Italian bands is a little sketchy, outside of Lacuna Coil. Either way, here we are, it’s 2024, and finally I am catching up with the band, as they are releasing their third album Stare At Nothing. It’s a long player comprising of nine stoner doom tracks, which hopefully will push the band in to the leagues of the likes of Windhand and Acid King.

Yes, there are the obvious comparisons, all these bands share the same dynamics, and create slow, drudgy slabs of doomy goodness, and yes, all three are female fronted, but that is where things tend to differ. Haunted, for me, feel a little more accessible to the mainstream, and have somewhat catchier elements in the music, which hopefully will see them winning over a whole new demographic of fans with these new tunes.

Weighing in at around forty-five minutes, the album is a perfect balance of length and finesse, which makes the album feel full, without dragging on at all.

After an initial introduction piece, track two, Catamorph kicks in with a speaker blowing, hard chugging, riff filled slice of hard stoner doom rock, which instantly resonates with me. It is my first glimpse at the band, and right from the start, I’m impressed. It also sets the scene for the rest of the album and helps to define just what the band are all about.

The clean vocal rides over the soundtrack with such confidence that it’s almost as if its the driving force for the whole dynamic. Add to this an extremely proficient instrument section, there’s no part of this that falls into the background at all. The drums are vibrant and heavy, punchy without being too overpowering, and the guitar and bass are opulent without being pretentious or pushing to take control at any point.

So bassy it will rock the foundations, it’s so dark and sinister, it’s breathtaking…

This is the same throughout Stare At Nothing, and as it progresses, there is no point where I ever feel like it could do with anything else being added to the mix, for lack of a better description, I find myself intoxicated with it all and there are a couple of tracks which really stay with me; Back To The Nest and Potsherds.

The former, for its drudgy elements and vibe, this is where I particularly catch that Windhand feel. So bassy it will rock the foundations, it’s so dark and sinister, it’s breathtaking. The latter, because it is a pacier piece, which highlights the fact that the band can change things up whenever they see fit, and still push out something which is dark, yet driven.

Again, there is that Windhand twinge, perhaps it’s in the delivery, especially the vocal, which is comparable to Dorthia Cotrell, but don’t be fooled, this is more than merely an homage, Cristina Chimirri’s vocal is as entrancing as it is beautiful, and really does wonders to create an overall dynamic which is rarely heard to such eloquence with heavier music such as this.

The one thing that does surprise me most though, is the fact that if you didn’t know better, you would have this down as an American four piece, not Italian. It does have that feel to it, and it’s a weird one for me because now I’ve listened through multiple times, and taken a more in-depth autopsy of it all, I can’t help but hear bits which do guide me towards another Italian band, and its only once I’ve picked up on it, my mind has wandered on to that path.

No, it isn’t Lacuna Coil, as Haunted sounds nothing like them, but there is a little spike towards Guano Apes. Now, I’m not saying that’s what the band sound like overly either, but, and hear me out, as someone who loves that band, this does give me that vibe, in a slower, darker way. Perhaps it’s the vocal delivery which pushes that, or the tone, but it strikes at that moodier Guano Apes feel.

Now hopefully this won’t take away from the experience, as I absolutely loved Stare At Nothing, and without spoiling the experience too much, the best I can say is go and invest some time into it as it’s a superb album by a band who obviously are masters at what they do. One to watch for sure.

Label: Ripple Music
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish