HAAN is a blistering 4 piece noise rock band from NYC, operating in the spirit of all that description implies. In the grand, grimy tradition of their forebears like Helmet and Unsane, HAAN will hit you in the gut and leave you lying breathless in the street. Their particular fusion of post punk/hardcore and hard rock is muscular and undulating, not leaving anything to the imagination as they strip all of the filth and stress and rage off of daily life and hold it up in front of your face. This is exactly what the band accomplishes on their new offering By the Grace of Blood and Guts, out 8/10/18 on Aqualamb Records.
Formed in 2012 under the name No Way, a few years, an EP, name change, and a lineup shuffle leave us with the band HAAN firing on all cylinders and delivering a legitimate slab of heavy. By the Grace of Blood and Guts showcases the work the band has put into the craft since the release of their short but powerful 2014 EP Sing Praises. HAAN have refined their approach to the point that it delivers maximum punch, and each song is like a bloody little chunk of raw meat dusted with cocaine.
Something I have always appreciated about noise rock as a subgenre is that its oeuvre is basic enough that it can be executed by a trio or a quartet perfectly, but the only way that is possible is if every player pulls off their part flawlessly. HAAN understands this, and each member spends the entire running time of By the Grace of Blood and Guts laying solidly in the cut and making it look/sound easy.
Drummer Chris Enriquez (who has since moved on from the band and also plays in NYC bands Spotlights and Primitive Weapons) pounds inexorably toward climax on each track while bassist Dave Maffei locks in with him like one of the robot lions that form Voltron and completely solidifies the band’s rhythmic backbone, which sounds like it is made of braided steel cables covered in shards of glass.
Guitarist Jordan Melkin RIFFS like Jesus performing a tone-based miracle. His parts chunk, they slither, and they slice – there’s beef and distortion and there’s dissonance, but there’s also some memorable hooks and shining little moments of melody – whatever you need, whenever you need it.
Chuck Berrett’s vocals are the caterwaul of a desperate, angry man howling at the cold and uncaring moon at midnight. Berrett’s voice is not exactly a scream or a shout, but is shaded in tones of both frustration and exhaustion with the world in which he finds himself, and there is a bone deep malaise evident in his expression of that.
The album opens with a suitably husky track called Thy Tongues that kicks off the whole affair with a pulsating tension that eventually develops into a punishing mid-tempo burner that hits like a hammer to the back of the head.
That is followed by a standout jam in the form of Hyena Moan, which marries the best aspects of late-era Daughters with late 90’s Clutch. It pummels with a simple, chunky riff and Berrett’s vocals hit tent-revival/snake handler levels as he rasps and wails that he’ll “sort you out with a taste of hell”. This is the track I find myself coming back to most often, but it’s early days still.
Another high point is The Woke, which runs the gamut of noise rock’s various charms, which include, but are not limited to Slaves and Bulldozers-esque chunky palm mutes and gnarly guitar dissonance as a 3 foot thick bassline holds it all down in the background. Late album cut Diminuendo comes in with the nastiest, most motivated riff on the record, and pushes things into decidedly post-hardcore territory with noisy aggression and feedback oozing out of almost every bar. You will lose your shoes in that mosh pit, unless they are the combat boots from the back of your Agnostic Front shirt.
All of the above is basically a super roundabout way of saying that By the Grace of Blood and Guts is a proper burner, an authentic artifact of NYC noise rock deserving of its place in the books and your attention right now. HAAN have made a record that will hit you and stick to you, climb up under your fingernails like subway grime and come home with you, and it will take you days to wash it off. I personally haven’t even gotten around to trying yet. Grab it HERE when it pops off this Friday.
Release Date: August 10, 2018
Label: Aqualamb Records
For Fans Of: Unsane, Helmet, Young Widows, Whores.