Following on from a superb live project, The Haunted North launch a brand new original single this summer, and it’s one that effectively highlights yet another side to the versatile rock band.
Leading with emotive acoustic finger-picking and dashes of reverb-kissed electric guitar, 21 Grams quickly sets a nostalgic, nineties unplugged sort of mood, with breathy vocals and poetic yet personal lyrics that work hard to draw you in.
Soon enough, things progress from a pick to a strum, still the set-up is simple, up front and honest, and the melody and questioning nature of the lyrics actually lean briefly in something of a Pink Floyd-like direction. Then comes the rhythm, raw yet energising in itself, drawing up images of a cajon-assisted performance – still intimate for a moment.
One thing that stood out on the last release was The Haunted North’s fine use of contrast and their united ability to shift effortlessly from softness to absolute weight and intensity. Nowhere does this ability shine more brightly than on 21 Grams.
Suddenly we’re thrust into this progressive rock soundscape, with raspy, mighty vocals, and powerful drum hits that bring together every layer in a moment of intense energy and vibrancy. Here is where the lyrics really reach out, too – resolving the story-line, offering clarity and overcoming, acceptance. It makes you want to head back and re-listen to the whole experience with a little more foresight.
Afterwards, an ocean of solos and raw instrumental chaos hits with a beautifully organised, hypnotic precision about it. Clarity and intimacy are replaced by this wall of fuzz-soaked power and volume. It’s a stunning way to develop the track, and it highlights yet again how much attention and care the band pay to the structuring and crafting of their songs. This kind of artistic, meaningful arrangment is sadly quite rare these days, but 21 Grams reignites those memories and their lasting impact with brilliant poignancy.
Fantastic – one to catch at a live show, and a really well-recorded single that’s a joy to turn up loud if you’re a classic, real rock fan. The unusual, seven-minute life-span is even something of an afterthought for the listener – somehow still an experience cut short. Well played.