Lay My Bones Beside The Others by Haunch

Release date: January 26, 2018
Label: Black Tragick Records

You’d probably need to visit the wee Northern Irish coastal town to fully understand the connotations of being described as “coming from the Badlands of Larne”. But that is how the Press Release for the debut album by Haunch begins. The three piece are made up of members of Throat, Dutch Schultz (Rory McGeown-Guitar/Vocals and Willy Mundell-Guitars/Drums/Vocals) and Therapy (bassist Michael McKeegan). Keeping the local connection, Lay My Bones Beside The Others is released on fellow musician Robyn G. Shiels’ new label Black Tragick Records.

Back in the day (2000 to be exact), when Northern Irish bands with a noisier sound than Snow Patrol could make a dent in the Top 40, a lesser known band tiptoed around the peripheries but were no less deserving of success as one of their tunes, ‘Sonny’s Hired Killer’ showcased a superlative way with melody. The band in question were Throat, who seemed destined for bigger things but missed the major success boat by inches. They went on to become Dutch Schultz and yet again, gave us two albums of melodic noise rock. So when I heard that they had teamed up with Therapy’s four string expert I was fully intent on hearing the end result. In true old school style, I was sent a CD to review, maximum respect to the lads for that!

The album hits the ground running with lead track ‘Twitching’. With some chunky riffage in the vein of Metallica’s Black album and solid production, the track is most satisfying and features a chorus high in melody that has some playful little lead guitar lines to propel it along. A clever section featuring flickering acoustic guitars and droplets of piano shows an excellent grasp of song dynamic. The band members’ other/former acts are represented well on ‘Cross The Line’ with the combination of melodic and groovy bass lines, intertwining double lead vocals and searing guitar lines.

With the blueprint of chugging riffs established on ‘Where Do We Go For Release?’, this is the bedrock on which agreeable hooks and melodies are built. So far, the tunes are sneaky little earworms that help themselves to your brain space and refuse to leave. Special mention must go to the Duane Denison-esque guitar solo in this track, it comes from out of nowhere and is pretty sublime. ‘Water’s Rising’ is a snappy number which ups the tempo and lets Willy Mundell show off with some hefty beats, the tune is elevated with some keyboard flourishes that swell and rise.

Mundell also has a blast on ‘Let It Out Slowly’, an oddity that combines thunderous drums with underplayed guitars that almost drag the song back, but the chorus is eruptive and appreciated when it comes. ‘Serpents Garden’ is a mid-tempo song that can maybe pass you by until the immaculate second half arrives with some wondrous twisting melodies and inspired singing that just drips with melancholy. For once, the melody on ‘Silent Drag’ subsides into something more monotone while the guitars and drums duel for your attention. On ‘Don’t Mean Much’ there’s a delicate intro of lilting keyboards and whispered vocals that build up to a volcanic chorus of staccato yelps and the guitars tap into prime-era Billy Duffy.

‘Love Love Love Love Love Love’ is a song that I kind of wish would have been played a little faster to keep my interest. I’m thinking the intention might have been to create a loose little ballad but the ability to let go of the rock tendencies muddies the waters somewhat. Thankfully there’s a return to twitchy beats and choppy guitars for ‘Lay My Bones Beside The Others’. However, the flurry of ideas in terms of instrumentation gets in the way of the melody and I ultimately struggled to stay with the song. Album closer ‘Beneath The Surface’ layers up the vocals and features some lovely little hooks combined with punchy guitars and Bonham sized beats, bursting with great melody it’s a fine end to an album that is a solid and enjoyable debut.

I’m hoping from more from Haunch, I suppose this will depend on McKeegan’s exploits with Therapy, but this album is actually good enough to give him something to fall back on should his main employment falter. It’s great to hear McGeown and Mundell’s voices again as I always enjoyed their way with a melody and higher registered tones. Overall, Lay My Bones Beside The Others is a very solid album of crunchy riffs, slamming drums, slick production and catchy melodies. More “dark distorted pop songs” please.

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