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A Solid, but Unspectacular, Album - 65%

Mystlyfe, June 6th, 2009

The Haunted are back, and so is their unique sound. On all their albums with Dolving as the vocalist, the Haunted have churned out aggressive, yet disturbing, no haunting, metal. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the albums with Marco, they were good too (especially The Haunted Made Me Do It). But Dolving provides the sound that makes the them The Haunted.

Versus is different, yet the same. Rather than continuing down the path they laid out with The Dead Eye, they took steps closer to the straight-up, no-nonsense metal of their debut. There are still some of the same tricks and sounds that were used on rEVOLVEr and The Dead Eye, such as in Little Cage, Skuld, Rivers Run, and Trenches. Other songs grab you by the neck and jam huge riffs down your throat, such as Crusher, Faultline, and Ceremony. The end product is a combination of the raw thrash authority with flares of the dark melodies and effects that they have become known for.

Dolving delivers another stunning performance, and once again you can feel his anger spilling out from his vocals. He employs a variety of techniques, including clean singing, his signature scream, and a "whisper" of sorts (specifically during Skuld).
The album was recorded "live" with everything but the vocals happening at the same time, in the same room. This helped create the raw power of the album, but it also means multiple songs start with tap-ins (Ceremony, Crusher), which gets a bit old. This same technique was used on their self-titled debut, and it tends to produce solid results. The biggest downside is that the mix levels seem to be about the same for each track (for obvious reasons), which takes away a bit of the diversity.

The drumming provides a solid basis for the album, although it's not a particularly complex. Some double-bass runs provide added thunder, but they aren't on every track (nor do they need to be). The rhythm section provides support on this album, rather than being the focus. The guitar-work is potent and heavy, but not overly intricate. Once again, with the Haunted's style of music, it doesn't really need to be. The solos are delivered in a similar to how this band always has.

The first few times I listened, this album felt like it was missing something, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what. I still can't, but like all of their albums have, Versus is growing on me. It gets better every time I listen. It still feels like something just isn't there, but it's not a huge factor anymore.

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