“Haunter of the Dark” is the second outing for NYC’s Infinite Spectrum and the growth from their debut “Misguided” is quite apparent. Yes they are still a prog metal band that lives and dies with the concept album. “Haunter of the Dark” is based on the short story by H.P. Lovecraft of the same name. I am not going to spoil the plot either! Infinite Spectrum have tightened their sound a bit more and ditched the over abundance of sound clips that drove me crazy on “Misguided.”
This time out the band have relegated the story telling to a spoken word intro and outro. Both are separate tracks which is great because once you’ve heard each, there’s not much reason to listen to either again. The album is a showcase for vocalist Will Severin, who has a tremendous voice and excellent range. The problem is that at times he sings too much! Sounds like an odd complaint, right?
The epic track “The Church” is the centerpiece for the album but it’s basically verse after verse after verse. I’m not sure I’ve heard so many words crammed into one song. You’d think there would be plenty of solos and fireworks in a dramatic track but really there aren’t. It’s a shame because the song needs more space between all the vocals. By the time I was 2/3 through it, I was checking to see how much was left.
On the upside, many of the “shorter” tracks are tighter and have good vocal/instrumental balance. The majestic “Federal Hill,” the ass kicking title track and “Fear” each show the different sides of the band and none of those tracks do more than they should. The title track reminded me that bassist Alex Repetti is in the band and is really good because I could hear him on it. He seemed to be further back on some of the other tracks. He just makes this song heavier and stand out.
I would have loved more guitar solos from Alex Raykin too. When he plays, it’s tasteful yet still dramatic. Drummer Greg Schwab gets a chance to rip on the song “Fear” which is great. Keyboardist Katie Pachnos has her big moment on the title track with a KILLER solo. I just wish they had let her loose on “The Church,” but she is relegated to a few repetitive synth leads.
Songwise, like many concept albums, “Haunter of the Dark” is more concerned with telling the story versus letting the songs happen. Outside of the title track and “Fear,” I have a hard time humming anything from the rest. It’s something that will come in time. The band have amazing chops and in Severin they have a dynamic singer who reminds me a bit of both Jon Oliva and Zak Stevens. Savatage fans will actually love this album because it’s something that band could have released today.
Infinite Spectrum are a band with a classic prog metal sound and ideal that will appeal to fans of Savatage, Queensrÿche and Fates Warning. Infinite Spectrum don’t sound LIKE any of them but they could have easily been contemporaries of those bands. It’s good to know that bands like this still are out there and “Haunter of the Dark” is another big step for a band that’s bound to have more to come.
1. Prologue: Providence, Winter, 1934
2. Federal Hill
3. The Calling
4. The Church
5. The Stranger Things I’ve Learned
6. Haunter Of The Dark
8. All That We See
9. 2:12 AM
10. Epilogue: Providence, Summer, 1935