The Haunted - Unseen
Century Media
Progressive/Groove Metal
12 songs (42:21)
Release year: 2011
The Haunted, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

All too often there’s an instinctive rebellion against any form of progression in the metal world. The Haunted, a fine Swedish neo-thrash export, have suffered from this all too much, ridiculed when they experiment (The Dead Eye) and ignored when they conform with what people expect of them (Versus). Just what is a band to do? Give two fingers to all, is the answer clearly given by full-length number seven Unseen, an album gleefully trailed by Dolving in interviews as ‘a pop album!’ and quite happily devoid of the songs about killing people which defined the band’s first three albums. Instead, it follows in The Dead Eye’s footprints and goes even further, incorporating elements of genres outside of the band’s traditional remit of death and thrash – prog most clearly, alt metal and hard rock also very notable. It’s a better mixture of such disparate elements than they managed on The Dead Eye, as opening track Never Better proves, marrying grooving riffage with an infectious chorus and turning proggy in the middle twisting, turning, and completely messing with your expectations of what a Haunted song should sound like. Heck, there’s even hints of Opeth in there!

Forget those expectations, then, of another samey slice of aggressive Versus-esque modern thrash, definitely ignore the people already shrieking about how the band have gone Nu-Metal, and expect nothing except to give Unseen many listens, as the twelve tracks here are not at all easy to digest. The album seems simultaneously very well thought-out and carefree, moving from genre to genre without a worry. Throughout, not just is Dolving allowed to really push his voice, but the various Jensens and Björlers that make up the instrumental part of the band are given chances to shine too. Only talented musicians could follow the aforementioned groove of Never Better with the strangely Clutchlike stomp of No Ghost, before switching to something more akin to Deftones on Catch 22. Every track has this experimental mindset woven through, giving them both a catchiness and expert sense of melody that you’ve have been hard-pressed to find before. Take Disappear as an example, which is the very picture of modern melodeath catchiness, the sort of thing In Flames should be writing – the modern rock sheen makes it something like A Perfect Circle from a metal background instead of a rock one. And don’t think that invoking APC’s name is in any way undeserved, as Dolving’s voice takes on a notable MJ Keenan tone at times, in the title track especially.

The Haunted have made a real effort to experiment, and good for them. Even relatively heavy stompers like Motionless are wrapped in that comforting blanket of melody and progression. The soft, poppy crooning that opens The Skull soon turns to Gojira-esque groove and builds into a more typically Haunted sound, turning naturally back towards melodic territory and ending with... whistling! Core-tinged anthem The City has a strangely atmospheric sound to it, the crunchy riffage of Them supports Dolving’s softly sung sections well, and All Ends Well is practically Foo Fighters-esque. As a whole, it’s a challenging listen for metalheads used to being presented with ever harder and faster material, and I have no doubt that those writing expletive-strewn negative reviews will be numerous. Without a doubt, this is a move towards the mainstream in terms of sound, but in no way is it a sellout – The Haunted are an increasingly interesting band rebelling against what’s expected of them and playing what they want, comfortable in their own skins for perhaps the first time ever, and even if you dislike Unseen – and many will – there’s no arguing with that.

MySpace
Killing Songs :
Never Better, No Ghost, Catch 22, Unseen, The City, Them, All Ends Well
Goat quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by The Haunted that we have reviewed:
The Haunted - Exit Wounds reviewed by Goat and quoted 73 / 100
The Haunted - Versus reviewed by Goat and quoted 76 / 100
The Haunted - The Dead Eye reviewed by Dylan and quoted 41 / 100
The Haunted - rEVOLVEr reviewed by Jay and quoted 67 / 100
The Haunted - Caught on Tape DVD reviewed by Jay and quoted no quote
To see all 8 reviews click here
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