Interview: Haunter’s Enrique Bonilla, Bradley Tiffin Talk New, Three-Song Record

It sounds insane to argue that a three-song, 32-minute progressive metal record is direct and efficient, but Discarnate Ails, out May 6 via Profound Lore, is unlike any record you’ll hear this year. The Austin, Texas-based Haunter refuse to write the same record twice, and their third full-length is by leaps and bounds their most exceptional and dynamic creation yet—and that’s coming from someone who loved 2019’s Sacramental Death Qualia.

Fusing melodic black metal, dissonant death, psychedelic prog, and a riffs-per-minute ratio that would make Revocation jealous, Discarnate Ails is the perfect extreme metal record to get lost in for a half hour.

Making something that is this dense, direct, and devastating is no accident, as guitarist Enrique Bonilla can confirm.

I feel a lot of people can relate to an ever-decreasing attention span, so it means a lot to hear it held your attention throughout the listen. It takes a lot of concentration and intention to execute on our end, but it’s an absolute fun ride that tests us as individual players and as a band.”

Haunter are a band most interested in writing harrowing, extreme metal and posing thoughtful questions. The record is reflective on the cycles of spiritual destruction and our collective rush towards disaster.

Guitarist/vocalist Bradley Tiffin explains, “We’ve never been a band to explicitly state meaning behind lyrics because at the end of the day, we just wanna rock. This record has the most tangible lyrics and ideas we’ve ever written about. The actual dystopia we’re trapped in feels more absurd and the weight feels increasingly heavier. Both the lyrics and distinct songwriting are indicative of this. Lyrically it discusses sentient collective human failure as a whole, down to the individual’s (lack of) will to fight for their own betterment.”

Sacramental Death Qualia was absolutely more focused on a spiritual/esoteric floofy fluffy plane of thinking,” Bonilla adds, “but this album is more about observable and livable human experiences. The elements beyond the music are truly an afterthought that we try to fit around the chaos of finished songs and not the other way around. We’ve always been a band about riffs first and motifs or themes last.”

It’s to Haunter’s credit that something that may be an afterthought feels so fully fleshed out. The band’s most recent two records have leaned into more longform songwriting, while simultaneously leaning into efficiency over elongation.

“I actually find this record a bit more punctuated and to-the-point than SDQ,” Tiffin says. “Still a 16oz-piece of beef but with less fat. My songwriting headspace has been wired for streamlined ideas for a long time now. Always trying to maintain musically logical progression but with an inimitable twist. I do have to take the blame for dragging us down such a rabbit hole.  

Discarnate Ails is the highest echelon of my capability to perform in this context. The rate of songwriting was the slowest the process ever was, and not without ample time to mold into something the whole band would find satisfactory. I wouldn’t expect Haunter to try to ‘top’ this style of execution in the future. I really wanted it to be less dynamic and more aggressive.  

“As I was writing the first of the three tracks, I knew this record was going to be the most metal Haunter album. The somberness and perhaps long-winded quality of SDQ was very purposefully substituted for a more traditional and pissed ‘metal prowess,’ be that death or black. Everyone on this record had a bigger role in being inventive, especially with the guitar interplay.” 

Watch the video for “Chained At The Helm Of The Eschaton” here:

For more from Haunter, find them on Bandcamp, Facebook, and Instagram.

Photo courtesy of Oscar Moreno

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