Something happened to San Antonio’s HAUNTER between 2016 debut Thrinodia and Sacramental Death Qualia, which was to follow three years after. What happened was this: a run-of-the-mill screamo trio embraced death metal and became something a bit more in the process. And now, three years after, we’re subjected to Discarnate Ails.

Now, from Thrinodia onwards the members were fond of long, extended pieces, but Discarnate Ails (we’ll call it HAUNTER’s second album, but don’t tell them) is made up of three tracks clocking in at an armadillo’s tail over the half-hour mark. I’ve never ever “gotten” screamo, but friends who do tell me many of the bands are extremely technically proficient, which I can only assume gave HAUNTER both a head start on crafting involved chord structures and rhythms and a somewhat skewed look at death metal from the start.

Patient, yet not necessarily seeming as if building towards anything, a sparse intro soon enough shifts into cosmic death metal ala some of GORGUTS’ material, then we’re returned to the pattern from before. This time, though, bolstered with intricate yet weighty somehow memorable instrumentation. There’s a good bit going on in ‘Overgrown With The Moss’, but not so much as to seem cluttered, and when the first lead arrives [5:16-5:5:34] to reign us back in from the maelstrom – briefly – we realize we’re being both challenged and entertained.

‘Spiritual Illness’ wends ‘n’ winds, at times convoluted/chaotic, in but always, always with a strange element of memorability that keeps the churning riffs, the whipping, tornadic rhythms from becoming simply off-kilter flailing. By the time we get to ‘Chained At The Helm Of The Eschaton’ we’re already worn out, breathless and fatigued from the prior pummeling, but somehow its 13+-minutes invigorate, give the adrenaline dump for one final leap into the fray that is the HAUNTER of 2022. Ups, downs, ins, outs, lefts, rights? Yeah, we got ‘em all here.

I’m sticking by my opinion that HAUNTER truly began with Sacramental Death Qualia, but if Discarnate Ails is any indication of what’s to come, we’d best be ready for one mother of a ride.
Review By: Lord Randall

Discarnate Ails
Profound Lore
4.5 / 6