Winter Haunts shows The Rational Academy as a band of relevance – they have never been more alive in any of their previous incarnations.
Thompson's vocals remain as hushed and reverent as ever, yet rather than the music crowding around and buoying it, it is oft drowned like a tidal wave of static destruction, an aural razing of the landscape. Such approaches like the Boris-like doom metal intro to Vast Uncertain doesn't drown out the nuances of the songwriting though – rather it helps to embody the desperation that these songs hold at their core. And although End Of The Year may feel like a heavier squalling interpretation of the past, Yellow Pony encapsulates everything in a three-and-a-half minute soundbite. It shows the band breaking free of the carapace of the past and becoming something altogether different – harsher, yes, but therein lies the damaged beauty.
The album finishes with the acoustic wistfulness of I Catch The Warmth, which tears the curtain down on another chapter in a wall of feedback, walking into the blinding light to disappear. Winter Haunts shows The Rational Academy as a band of relevance – they have never been more alive in any of their previous incarnations.