Your favorite bands salute their live show and revere their catalog. Will Haven never cracked the mainstream, but the deep respect from friends and contemporaries demonstrates what an unnatural force the long-running crew is to those firmly in the know. Tour mates and collaborators (like Deftones and Slipknot) champion the boys from Sacramento, California, whose reputation for challenging, combative, aggressive metallic hardcore and sonic dissonance stretches back to 1995. Will Haven is a band Metal Hammer described as “bleak noise and controlled chaos.” Kerrang! consistently puts their albums next to Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, and Foo Fighters on year-end lists. Muscular, agitated, and colored by disparate influences from Neurosis to Jane’s Addiction, the music made by the cult heroes reaches critical mass with a 2023 state-of-the-union dubbed simply, VII.
Frontman Grady Avenell and guitarist Jeff Irwin first met in fifth grade. Drummer Mitch Wheeler joined Will Haven more than 20 years ago; bassist Adrien Contreras arrived in 2010. Death Valley High guitarist Sean Bivins, a friend of the band for more than 20 years, adds synths and extra guitars.
VII is a natural progression for a band who’ve made landmark after landmark albums on the fringes of the heavy metal world for nearly 30 years and a total summation of all that’s come before.
Doomy hardcore and experimental angst collided on Will Haven’s 1997 full-length debut, El Diablo. Metal Hammer called WHVN one of the best metal albums of 1999. In a four-star review, NME wrote of 2001’s Carpe Diem, “the sound of a messy, cleansing purge in the name of rock n’ roll has seldom sounded more urgent.” 2007’s The Hierophant was co-produced by Deftones frontman Chino Moreno. “Not only is this the group’s best effort to date, but it’s one of the best in the genre,” Sputnik wrote of 2011’s Voir Dire. Arriving in 2018, Muerte represented yet another creative renaissance.
VII is riff-heavy and unapologetically metal more than ever before. Imagine Pantera throwing down with Mr. Bungle. VII sounds like everything Will Haven in a blender, devilishly crushed together.
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