Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has become known for its high poverty, drug use, and violent crime rates. It is lesser known for containing Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban park systems in the United States, and the slightly smaller Wissahickon Valley Park – the latter having been praised in writings by Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman. It’s on the edge of this valley where Havens, the solo atmospheric black metal project of Daniel Donahue, was born.
“I’m easily overwhelmed by the speed of everyday life, but there’s something very calming about being able to get away from it all,” Donahue offers. “I can take a five-minute walk and leave all the sirens and people behind and be completely by myself with nothing but the sound of rushing streams and calling birds.”
On the new album, On The Verge Of Collapse, this duality is immediately apparent, transitioning between pummeling black metal and swirling passages of post-rock. There’s an urgency to the songs borne out of Daniel’s anxiety and fears, tempered with moments of respite.
On inspiration for the album, Donahue states, “I spent a lot of time examining my worst fears – chief among them my own mortality – and how I cope with them. It’s introspective, but there’s also some politics because I believe that ‘the personal is political’ so there’s no way to separate them.”
Blazing riffs and forceful vocal conviction are key elements which compare to the music of Wayfarer, Panopticon, Alcest, Falls Of Rauros, or Saor. Classic Swedish black and melodic death metal elements reminiscent of early Dissection and At The Gates are also in place, and a sense of urgency through metallic hardcore and metal influences descendant of Zao, Spread The Disease, or even Misery Index can be felt.
Originally conceived, and currently functioning, as a solo, studio effort, there are no immediate plans for HAVENS live performances. “I’m not against playing live, but I also have no strong urge to do so,” offers Donahute. “If the cards fall into place with a live lineup, it would be fun to play a couple local shows. Either way I will always write and record songs when inspiration strikes.”
I will be featuring a track from the album on a future edition of Sonic Attack Aftermath.