Sacramento noise metallers Will Haven have returned with their sixth full-length album, Muerte. After forming in 1995, Will Haven quickly established themselves as key players in California’s underground metal scene alongside bands like Deftones and Far. Since then, they have gone on to release several influential and critically acclaimed albums. The band’s first full LP since 2011’s Voir Dire, Muerte is no doubt one of the most anticipated alternative metal records of the year.
Muerte strikes a fine balance between order and chaos, something that is exemplified by ‘No Escape’, at the midpoint of the album. This song veers between fast, energetic verses and slow, booming choruses featuring grandiose guest vocals from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt. The sombre, psychedelic outro combines with Scheidt’s haunting wails to achieve an almost otherworldly sound. Similarly, the hypnotic, sludgey second half of ‘Winds of Change’ is a sublime example of Will Haven’s ability to weave together genres into their own unique brand of metal.
Muerte rarely compromises on heaviness, on blistering opener ‘Hewed With the Brand’ right the way through to the 6-minute epic ‘El Sol’. For the latter, Will Haven have teamed up with the mighty Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter, who co-wrote the song and whose influence is clear on the churning riffs that see the song through to its finale.
With Muerte, Will Haven have struck true with a solid slab of crushing heaviness occasionally drifting into more progressive territory. Grady Avenell‘s signature vocals relentlessly drive each song forward, while guitarist Jeff Irwin, bassist Adrien Contreras and drummer Mitch Wheeler deliver punishing riffs that will be playing round and round in listener’s heads long after the record has finished.