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The Haunted are a band that are constantly being misrepresented on The Metal Archives. I mean, by any criteria you see fit to judge by, 'Versus' is not a better album than 'Made Me Do It', though it has a higher average score as I write this. Nor are The Haunted a nu metal (mallcore) band, but there are those who have leveled this at them by way of criticism. The thrash purists (I'm thinking of one ultra-purist in particular) are quite adamant that this is not thrash and that's made me angry in the past. Now, however, I'm going to agree with them. The Haunted aren't thrash: certainly not if your definition of thrash is Overkill and Exodus and bullet belts and speed-happy songs about moshing and armageddon. But The Haunted aren't melodeath or metalcore or speed metal or death metal. The post-thrash tag is lazy and insulting, because it implies that a band is not "proper" thrash or that they are merely trading in old ideas, yet that's exactly where The Haunted sit. They are one of the bands responsible for pulling thrash kicking and screaming out of the 80s, stripping its sorry carcass (and it's picked clean by this point), and turning those bones into a 21st century beast that can excite and terrify all over again.
'rEVOLVEr' is the best The Haunted album; however, if this makes any sense (and it will if you listen to both), it also isn't better than the debut. This album has everything that has ever made The Haunted and post-thrash good. First up, Peter Dolving is the band's greatest asset. I don't care that you have two-fifths of At the Gates standing behind him, he owns every fucking song on this album. The moment Marco Aro was out of the band, that visceral quality came pouring back into the songwriting and the scent of danger - real danger - wafted back from the band's inception. The fact that Dolving came back with the ability to sing the clean opening to 'Abysmal', colour some of his vocals with a melodic presence that doesn't diminish their brutality like on 'All Against All', and still go batshit crazy (many examples, but 'Sweet Relief' if you want one in particular) just makes him an even more essential part of this barbed wire and broken glass cocktail. And his lyrics are so much better than before, which is actually where some of that intensity comes from, since there isn't so much all-out riff worship as on 'The Haunted'.
Then, of course, there are those two-fifths of At the Gates I mentioned earlier, plus Patrik Jensen, who isn't exactly lagging behind in the ability stakes. Jonas Björler still isn't doing too much in the way of bass presence, but he thickens up the riffs in a more satisfying way than ever before: the production has improved, and with it his influence on songs like the midpaced 'Burnt to a Shell', where the bass keeps the peaks and troughs well defined. Jensen's riffs aren't quite as thrashy across the board as on the previous albums, though it's like a box of creamy melodeath chocolates, with no two riffs sounding the same. The main riff of 'Nothing Right' is pure hook heaven, he does serrated melodeath on 'No Compromise', and then proper thrash on 'Sabotage', filling in some much needed gaps in The Haunted's sound with the lighter and more atmospheric touches that creep (that's the right word for them) into an album for the first time. Anders Björler always looks unexpressionate every time I've seen him, but his solos are rich and melodic, bringing a sweeping finesse to songs that would otherwise be too caustic for their own good. 'rEVOLVEr' sees him on fine form, even throwing in a few surprises, like the solo to 'Abysmal' that would fit happily into a Candlemass number.
A word must go to Per Moller Jensen, who is probably one of the most underrated drummers in the genre. He keeps up an admirable barrage that ridicules the nu metal accusations and pushes the band closer to extreme territory than many would admit. Because of the nature of this kind of hyperactive music (looking at Dolving here), there isn't a lot of time for him to shine with fills, so it's in his perfect placement and blistering intensity that he really makes his presence felt. It's largely thanks to the solidity of the base he provides that the band are able to slide into slightly different genres without losing focus and heaviness, something they would fail to maintain on 'The Dead Eye'. That small amount of variety, coupled with great songwriting and the intensity of the performances, makes 'rEVOLVEr' the pinnacle of The Haunted's sound, if not the most pant-wettingly brilliant album they ever put their name to.
I would also highly recommend the digipak version with two bonus tracks: the packaging is striking and the extra songs good - 'Smut King' in particular is three minutes of punishing fury.
Former members of At The Gates didn't stop to retire or start a new career away from music after the demise of their previous band, they insisted to carry on and bring more to the table of Melodic Death Metal, creating The Haunted. This band adds some Thrash elements into the sound as well, giving it an 'in your face' feel with their musical assault. With new vocalist Peter Dolving, The Haunted set the standard of Swedish Death Metal to a new level.
rEVOLVEr kicks in with the track that first got me into the band; 'No Compromise' and it's amazing. From everything to the guitar tone, vocals and drums, the album is set for praise. Dolving's vocals are phenomenal and differ with every track, from the screams and shouts which he makes on the track '99', to the more mellow and depressing sound which he creates in 'My Shadow'. I haven't heard much of The Haunted with previous vocalist Marco Aro, but what I've listened to is good, but nothing compared to what Peter brings to the table.
Anders Björler, the guitarist and one of the masterminds behind the band (along with his twin, Jonas) shows us why he is one of the best guitarists in the genre and why At The Gates were so special. His guitar work on songs like 'Sabotage' and 'Burnt to a Shell' is both entertaining and enjoyable. He tends to use less solo's on this album as he has done in previous, making the tracks more riff focused, with a couple of them having some. It's good nonetheless.
Drumming isn't to technical on the album also, but it sounds tight and powerful, especially the double bass on '99'. This ins't relatively a bad thing, even though they can suffer from repetition and lack of technical prowess , but overall drums are good. Unlike the bass, which is very crunchy yet lacks any substance whatsoever and doesn't seem to even be there sometimes, bringing nothing new to the table.
Overall, this album is a god damn fine example of what Melodic Death Metal should be, and The Haunted have left an impression, making them one of my new favourite artists and compelling me to buy other releases from them.
Stand out tracks:
+All Against All'
The first time I heard the Haunted was as unmemorable as the breakup of Creed. I bought Shadows Fall's "The War Within" without not knowing what it's going to sound like, and a bonus sampler disc from Century Media had "All Against All" in it. When it's mixed up with other mediocre acts like Diecast and Heaven Shall Burn, "All Against All" (which is included in this album) sounded really fucking mediocre.
Then, years later I ended up purchasing a 2CD, 1DVD package of Century Media "Metal for the Masses" compilation package, which included "The Flood" by the Haunted. Ok, the vocals were memorable this time. The name stuck to my memory this time. But nothing more.
It wasn't until I discovered that the Haunted was related to At the Gates, and after seeing news feed about the Haunted a million times on Blabbermouth, that I took time to look more into this band. To this day I've never heard an At the Gates song - I just know they're a big name in Gothenberg scene, and I am a big fan of Gothenberg band Arch Enemy. Thanks to this site and Wikipedia, I learned a bit about their history - and how this rEVOLVEr is supposed to be the best record they've put out. It also helped that one of my favorite local indie record store where I live had a used digipak copy of rEVOLVEr on shelf. So I grabbed it.
By this time you should realize that I'm only in casual acquaintance with the Haunted. Moreover you should realize, that this is a guy who have tried to like the Haunted but failed, simply because their music didn't impress in the past. But months has past since I purchased rEVOLVEr, and I am in love with it. It is here to stay in my prized collection of music. What an incredible record.
Guitars. Guitars guitars guitars. The dual guitar assault doesn't deviate much stylistically. However, Anders Bjorler and Patrick Jensen really know what they are doing, and it shows. Riffs and speed are varied enough to give each song an sense of independence, yet unified and cohesive as a record because of that sameness in terms of style and production. Their riffs aren't onslaught of originality, but nothing sounds recycled. The 5th track "All Against All" sounds great here, but it makes sense why it didn't when I heard it years ago (as I mentioned earlier) - it's because this album is a collective statement that really kicks ass, rather than a collection of stellar or diverse songs (except I will say "No Compromise" "99" and "My Shadow" stands out to me). Reserved diversity in this record can get really old with some bands, but for a record and a band like this, it's the way to go.
Per Moller Jensen is a hell of a drummer too. The way he pounds his drums, the punch and the accuracy of the beats that unleashes upon the listener's ears, sounds so dangerous that it sometimes evokes an image of bullets piercing through bodies and puncturing concrete walls (hence the imagery in the package and the album title maybe?). Although I'm certainly a fan of thrash metal, I've barely come across a thrash band with a drummer that truly stood out. Aside from Slayer (Dave Lombardo and Paul Bostaph), what other bands do you think of when you think of "great drummer"? Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Exodus, Rigor Mortis, or Testament? I've never heard anyone talk about how great Lars Ulrich or Nick Menza is as a drummer. Have you? Allow me to humbly suggest Per Moller Jensen as one of the great thrash drummer. I have not heard other The Haunted records, but this album alone is very convincing of Per's drumming skill.
Possessed but not processed - that's how I would describe Peter Dolving's vocal works here. What makes this album ultimately an incredible experience is the sense of danger that comes of violence, and nothing sounds more violent here than the vocals and the lyrics. Rather than tough-guy low growls or distortions, Dolving shouts with urgency triggered by primal need self-defend, as if he's a rat cornered by a cat. As a result, his somewhat high-pitched vocal sounds fresh. Yes, sometimes he whispers, sometimes he quietly sings. But in this album such deviations are not some cheap attempt to be diverse, it just serves as a counterpoint to the knife-sharp delivery of vocals, which in turns makes the shouting all the more purposeful. Lyrics are worth reading too - I wouldn't say they are brilliant, but they are imaginative.
To top all this off, the production is very appropriate. It sounds like it could've been cleaner and more bass-heavy, but that's a good thing. It just means that this album was produced just clean enough, nothing more. It minds the treble more than the bass, which, is a nice change of routine to my ears, after listening to so many metal albums that just wants to be 'heavy'. Of course, there IS bass, and it's listenable. It does rumble like crazy and it's certainly necessary to make this record what it is. But bass is reduced by putting less emphasis on double bass drums, which I think is really cool. Excuse me for repeating a same simile, but the sound of this album, it's like a knife. The production of this album makes the guitar-drum-vocal combo sound like an audio equivalent of razor-sharp, sterile, shining knife that's yet to be blood-stained. Am I making sense? I hope so.
To top this off, the package is nice too. I have the digipak version (the red one). I won't go into details, but let's just say they are interesting and pleasantly violent :). The package really is part of the reason I am proud to own this record - it just makes me want to stare at it while I listen to the album. Thumbs up for the title choice too. I'm not sure why "evolve" in "revolver" is capitalized, but I'm assuming this is their way of departing from the sound The Haunted created with the previous vocalist, Marco Ano.
All in all this is a great album where the sum is more than its parts. I'm not saying I'm unbiased, but by any means I'm not a fanboy. As I said before, I tried to LIKE their other songs, their other albums. Their materials before and after rEVOLVEr hasn't won me over yet. But my praise of this album is real. Even if I think this band can be mediocre at times, this is how much I hold rEVOLVEr in high regard. This is one of the most definitive thrash albums post-Metallica-and-Megadeth-gone-mainstream.
ps. If you can, grab the 13 track version. Two extra songs are great and only adds on to the intensity of the record. Worth your money.
Before I begin this review, I want to ask you something. Do you ever notice how a vast majority of the metal albums that are available for purchase have the continuous tendency to have a very similar sound throughout the whole album? No, really, this isn't some asshole guesstimate (intentional, I know it isn't a real word) speculating on how all of metal sounds the same, this is actually an observation I've come to realize -- and accept. Now while I will admit that it is very difficult for any one band to sound alike to another -- come on, you must have realized by now that Trivium sounds like many other bands besides Metallica -- I find that this tendency usually lasts only for the album's duration, then when the next one comes out, the sound changes within a finite amount of change and thusly, the new LP is created. (Of course, there are other bands out there that maintain the majority of their sound throughout a portion of their career, but that may not always be a bad thing, as many other bands have proven, i.e. Bolt Thrower or Metallica prior the self-titled release.)
Then again, it may be a rather intelligent decision to change the sound with each following album, as this maintains not only the fans on their proverbial feet, but this applies with the musicians as well. Enter The Haunted. From the first time you had ever heard of the Bjorler brothers through their first successful band, At The Gates, to their upcoming release (as of the date this review was typed), Versus, their own sound has gone through many variations, from the classic Gothenburg melodeath that helped popularize the genre to the rather unusual, but still intense and intricate style of thrash they continue to refine. This release in particular, rEVOLVEr, shows probably the biggest difference in their sound between albums, as this release now shows traces of slower, more brooding sides of the band, as well as more simplistic, but still equally intense hardcore riffs and even fantastic hard rock touches.
There's just one big problem. These changes barely last past the third track. Yeah, you heard me: You get practically the whole album within the first three songs. Yes, the same new ideas are used on some of the later tracks, and yes, in a few select places, they are done better. That doesn't change the fact that you get nearly all of the variation in three songs. Here, allow me to explain: 1.) No Compromise is a hard-hitting introduction, certainly much better than the ones on the Aro LP's, that shows the band's prominent penchant for hardcore punk, with its fast drumming and simplistic riffing. 2.) 99 shows off the classic Haunted, even though it starts off with another simple riff, but it still manages to impress once it gets off that riff. And 3.) Abysmal displays a creeping introduction melody that invites an abrupt break into the loudness, and it doesn't disappointing, showcasing that even with a slower rhythm, The Haunted can still perform their own brand of thrash metal satisfactorily.
And after that, you've practically heard the entire album.
Granted, there are still eight more tracks to listen to (ten if you managed to score the digipak version), and what's left for your perusal is not entirely disposable -- hell, not even remotely if you enjoyed those last three tracks. Sweet Relief and Liquid Burns exploit the impressive talent of the band to a pleasing extent, creating all-around good music similar to 99; Who Will Decide and Sabotage are decent throwbacks to the hardcore thing again, though the former has an interesting chorus riff and impressive performance from Lou Koller from Sick of It All (They sound alike, but if you like hardcore, I doubt you'll mind much.); Burnt to a Shell and My Shadow again use the slow, deliberate pacing of Abysmal once again, only I find these tracks to be much more enjoyable, since the melodies and their structures are more impressive; and Nothing Right and All Against All are basically a tasteful amalgamation of all of these ideas rolled into two awesome songs. Of course, many of the ideas in the aforementioned songs are represented in other songs also, but I felt it would be ideal to just tell you where the major ones are located.
Yeah, I know that a track-by-track review is largely discouraged here, but I feel that in this case, it's called for to show the reader where the similarities are. (Where in the songs are the similarities is a question that is best answered doing 'field research,' if you catch my drift. Trust me, it's not a total time-waster.) Also, it would be best to mention that I refrained from including Fire Alive, Smut King, and Out of Reach because I haven't had as much time with them as I would have liked. I have the version with 11 tracks, so an eleven-track review is what I'll type.
In spite of what many die-hard metalheads may claim, the Haunted are not a bad band at all. Granted, they could improve upon themselves in many ways, but judging from all of the metal that's available in the world, and the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect band (Metallica, anyone?), I would safely say that the Haunted are a great many cuts above the majority. I've only recently checked out this band, and this was my first purchase from them -- eight months ago. Since then, I've picked up many other CD's, among them the previous efforts of this band, and I'm not ashamed to say that I still listen to this one rather frequently. There's just a certain infectious quality with rEVOLVEr that just didn't shine on the previous releases, and I believe that the reason for this was because, with this release, the band had finally realized just what kind of sound they were looking for. Yes, it is easy to find fault with this album, as well as the other albums, but it is also easy to find the band's developed maturity in this album (Dolving, for one, sounds more focused and his lyrics aren't as blatantly violent as on the eponymous album.). I have yet to pick up the Dead Eye, but I highly doubt that I will enjoy it as much as I did rEVOLVEr. You, on the other hand, may just find enjoyment throughout the first three tracks (or any of its variations). It's why I haven't given as high a score as I would like -- because I know this CD isn't going to appeal to everyone. Thrash metal seems to be a difficult label to accomplish (well), so If you wish to find out whether or not you'll like rEVOLVEr, listen to only three tracks from this album, one with each distinctive sound, and determine for yourself if this is worth your money.
I have been a fan of The Haunted for a bit now. I was glad that Peter Dolving returned to the band because I really liked his piercing and persuasive-like vocals. Before I listened to rEVOLVEr, I expected the sound they always went to; melodic thrash. It was so and beyond that beginning thought.
As I first listen to any The Haunted song, I always pay attention to the guitars. All of the riffs sound catchy and original. Nothing seems re-used. Anders' soloing is at its best; Liquid Burns as an example, it's blending and little dynamics creates some good persuasion. Besides the thrashy approach, there are more melodic death and groove elements that are used for their next record. Some of the songs using the pieces felt spot-on perfect. Like in One Kill Wonder, the bass is audible and gives a feeling that Jonas should be listened as well.
Drums are still thrashy but includes some extras. Some of Per's best are in songs like No Compromise with his double bass drum progression from slow to fast. The song Who Will Decide displays some some interesting hardcore punk influences like his d-beating which is a good departure from his regular fast thrash playing.
The vocals are a critical part of this rEVOLVEr due to Peter returning after Marco Aro left the band. Just like the band's self-titled, Peter Dolving was more into a hardcore approach which is not a bad thing. His vocals felt perfect for The Haunted and still is. In this record, he has emotion in songs like Nothing Right and Abysmal; along with his newly added clean vocals, it creates an haunting and rebellious tone. Lou Koller of the New York hardcore punk band, Sick Of It All, is featured as a guest vocallist for Who Will Decide (to correspond with the song approach). He doesn't do just one part or something, he fills almost all the vocals along with Peter which makes the song very interesting
In a general aspect, The Haunted improved greatly over the first 3 with rEVOLVEr (hence the album name). Production is crisp and improved over One Kill Wonder/ They show more melodic riffing while containing it's core thrash sound. As mentioned, there is groove and very crossover thrash/hardcore punk (maybe even metalcore) sounds contained which resulted in very well executed experimentation. If you can submit and probable accept the slower sounds, then this is an absolutle listen.
Killing Songs: All of them (especially No Compromise, Abysmal, All Against All, Who Will Decide, Liquid Burns, and Fire Alive)
This is The Haunted at their best.