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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.