While Will Haven's close ties to fellow Sacramento, CA band the Deftones helped keep them in the public eye around the turn of the century, it never did manage to bring them much commercial success. This and other problems ultimately saw the group disband back in early 2002, which was pretty much the end of the story until 2006, when Will Haven announced their return. However, things have changed since that initial announcement - namely they now feature long-time band friend Jeff Jaworski of Red Tape fame in place of original vocalist Grady Avenell.
Keeping the album a family affair, the group recorded "The Hierophant" with Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and Shaun Lopez of Far/The Revolution Smile fame helping out behind the boards. All of this ensures that they retain their sludgy vicious edge with the instrumental portion of the album holding up quite well alongside the groups discography.
In fact, flush with dark atmospherics and a touch of doom, Will Haven still excel at lumbering tempos, looming riffs and a gravitational rhythm section that drags the songs forth like an ox does a plow. However, the problem with this album is unfortunately twofold. The first strike against "The Hierophant" comes in the form of the vocals of Jaworski. While he has the proper tone and demeanor, he lacks the menace and unbridled emotion of Avenell - a factor that was a key selling point for the bands material in the past.
This leads to the second strike, which is the lack of Avenell's ferocity causes the songs to drag on and bloat at an alarming rate. It's not for lack of trying and those unfamiliar with Will Haven's past work will not have such gripes. But Avenell's boots just prove to be too big for Jaworski to fill. That said, this is still for all intents and purposes a Will Haven album and it does have its moments. It's just that they aren't nearly as intense or bludgeoning as they used to be.
(3 / 5)