Haunted Life - The Declaration (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Haunted Life

The Declaration (2006)

Get Outta Town

A great half on a split does not always parlay well into a full-length effort. Too many hardcore and ‘screamo' bands have recorded five or ten awesome minutes of music, only to record a full-length and find out they peaked on their previous release. Fans of hardcore needn't worry, however, as straight from the shores of Lake Michigan is Haunted Life, and their newest release, The Declaration.

That declaration is a resounding one, and for 20 minutes, they leave no room for anyone to worry about their convictions.

Those convictions are thankfully to blistering and relentless hardcore that some of their contemporaries can only aspire to. Mixing a little bit of Ignite-style singing with their youth crew revival, Haunted Life are just the right mix of melody and a hard-edged delivery that will keep you on your toes throughout. The title track leads things off with a mix of throaty screams and gang vocals that without any originality is able to maintain a level of enjoyment I wasn't really expecting. They're one of those few bands that brings out the infectious steering wheel-slamming, toe-tapping, sing-along energy that every similar band wants to convey.

Even the run-of-the-mill, introspective lyrics take on an added weight just by virtue of how much fun this album is to sing along to. Every gang vocal, every hard-hitting riff is laced with an enthusiasm that belies what's otherwise simple as possible.

"Wasting Away," one of the band's shorter offerings, is a proverbial kick in the ass about halfway through the record that packs as much aggression into a minute-thirteen as some bands are capable of in the span of an entire record. "Devil Cakes" changes the gears slightly, with a more toned down chord progression and that Ignite-style singing mentioned earlier. The band's vocalist doesn't have quite the range Zoli possesses, but it's an honest effort nonetheless and a good change of pace. It's all about subtle change and diversions, rather than trying to make each new song an album unto itself.

It'll take quite a bit for Chicago to make up for giving the world Fall Out Boy, but Haunted Life is quite a hard kick in the right direction.