01. Doomsday Goes Away 02. Dark Nothing 03. Neglected 04. Wastemakers 05. Burning Eye 06. Blame 07. The Ban 08. Going Under 09. Freak 10. Winter
Best known as guitarist with ENTOMBED, Ulf Cederlund has one of the most interesting resumes in death metal. One of many bands he has played in over the years, HAYSTACK were originally born in 1994, inspired by the Swede's newfound love of noise rock, and the concrete terrorism of UNSANE in particular. Two albums and four years later, the project dissolved. But a great idea stays that way forever, and when Cederlund reunited with drummer Jonas Lundberg in 2017, HAYSTACK seemed to pick up where they left off. 2019's comeback joint "The Sacrifice" was plainly a more well-rounded record than its predecessors, but the essence of the band remained. Gnarly, groove-based and grimy, HAYSTACK continued to borrow from the greats of noise rock, but with a ramshackle charm of their own, and heightened melodic sensibilities beginning to prevail over atonal sludge. On "Doomsday Goes Away", the upgrading and sharpening of the band's sound is even more apparent.
The opening title track is a fabulous cacophony of churning bass lines, CRAMPS guitar and left-brain hardcore melodiousness. It's like an aggro-centric AFGHAN WHIGS on a punk rock mission, with extra angularity and grit. "Dark Nothing" is a languid, strutting affair, with a vocal from Cederlund that sounds, endearingly, like a young HENRY ROLLINS, and big riffs from the HELMET school of accessible bludgeoning. HAYSTACK have great chemistry as a three-piece (bassist Patrick Thorngren included),and thanks to a huge but believable production job, their obvious delight in the act of locking into a groove and lurching in unison is on display throughout. On more nuanced, downbeat songs like "Neglected" and "Winter", there are shadow traces of gothic post-punk, unholy doom, and horrified, formless noise, but the stripped-down nature of the performances ensures that "Doomsday Goes Away" is never cluttered. In fact, the best moments come when HAYSTACK surrender to their noise rock urges. The clattering riff-up of "Wastemakers" is a brittle but bellicose three-way jam. "Burning Eye" absolutely reeks of DISCHORD RECORDS circa 1990, but with a main riff that is built entirely from the hardest of classic rock. "The Ban" is scratchy, tense and unsettling, but almost overstuffed with great guitar lines and rhythmic tics. "Freak" is caveman blues given the screech 'n' grind treatment, with bonus feedback and a tweaked-out Cederlund vocal.
This sounds like it was a lot of fun to make. Making a racket is an underestimated pastime, and when you have such a great reputation for assailing people's ears, it would be criminal not to keep the noise coming. HAYSTACK's second crack at the whip is every bit as lethally effective and rough-hewn as their first.
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