‘Beautiful Catastrophe’ is a new track from Devon-based Haunt The Woods – a four piece who blend progressive rock with folk, creating music which manages to deal with mourning and yet retains the optimism of movement at the same time.
As the lead track for their debut EP and enhanced by the acoustics of a converted 17th century church, ‘Beautiful Catastrophe’ captivated me with high hopes and questions. How was the track going to capture the paradox of its title? Soundscape or song?
The result is a combination – and a captivating journey, not just for the ears, but for the feelings. Starting with gentle acoustic guitar topped with plush electric, it manages to quickly convey the sense of duality in life – “this was my decision, nothing lasts for good”. Framing the lyrics in the first person I believe is effective, intensifying the emotion and topped up with more male harmonies as the track moves towards the climactic line “I would love you if I could”.
Up until this point, gauging the intended mood of the track could be considered difficult – but the crash of drums and more vocal melodies seems to tell of not just feeling a painful emotion – unrequited love, but learning from it, reflecting on it. The lyrics become a little repetitive at points, “shows come to an end” and “everything happens for a reason” seem a little cliché, but on the other hand, it could be heard as an accumulation of the conventions of love – just like we do when trying to convince others what we feel.
Repetition does actually work in the favour of the track as the chorus unfolds, with the recurring “please don’t” adding to the convention of attempted conviction in love, capturing the hurt and desperation of the unrequited lover’s disappointment. Complementary guitars and flashes of keys give this section of the track classic depth, whilst the vocals hold harmonies as well as yodel-like qualities; really scaling the range of what we can feel – particularly so over the lines “Everything’s broken and I’m not the one who’s to blame”.
Strings go on to draw on the poignancy of this approach, leading us to another rendition of the chorus, this time with a more anthemic quality – which ends vocally with a cry, imploring us to listen out for more. More we certainly get.
For what follows can only be described as a truly impressive and unexpected electric guitar solo, topped by an acoustic-led reflection. This sounds conceptually like it won’t work, but Haunt The Woods manage to turn some magic here – controlling the rhythm carefully to lead our emotions through peaks and troughs, part of capturing the paradox at the heart of a “beautiful catastrophe”.
The track ends with a turn to reflective introspection – and we’re eased by growing guitar strumming and some seriously rousing harmonies. Rhyming “beautiful catastrophe” with “setting free” seems to summarise what this track is all about – the bittersweet contradiction of finding beauty in times of pain.
Haunt the Woods’ new EP ‘The Line’ is available now via Bandcamp, featuring the single ‘Beautiful Catastrophe’.