Album Review: Haunter – ‘Sacramental Death Qualia’

The apostle in triumph

For a band that is cited as an influence by so many, there are few who have actually tried to pull off “Opeth metal” in the now-waning decade. Which isn’t to say that Texas trio Haunter’s second album is this type of music in entirety, but there are elements found within Sacramental Death Qualia that make the Opeth fanboy in me raise a fist and pump it to Martin Lopez’s signature Afro-Cuban Bembe beat.

Following 2016’s much more black metal-inspired Thrinodίa and a handful of splits, Sacramental Death Qualia can be seen as a bit of a left turn. Though there were brief passages of progressive death metal-inspired mania found within their debut’s swirling cataclysm, this sophomore effort turns that paradigm on its heat, suddenly so much more death metal than black metal—and all the more progressive and spellbinding in comparison. This type of music—so familiar, but still presented in a new, creative fashion—is meant to be epic and large in gait, and Sacramental Death Qualia’s own stride is heroic, a blackened visage of their own predecessors.

Of course, there isn’t just “Opeth” to this album, even though the massive progressive metal is dealt in spades. No, Sacramental Death Qualia is a venture into the murky black depths of the strange and peculiar. The musical heroics found herein set Haunter far apart from their inspirations, and their second album will ideally cement them in the higher halls of underground music history.

Review taken from the October 2019 issue of Decibel, which is available here.