The Haunted - Versus
Century Media
Modern Thrash Metal
11 songs (39:03)
Release year: 2008
The Haunted, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Some people are never satisfied. After growing tired of the Modern Thrash/Melodeath mix that they had been playing on the previous four albums to varying levels of success (personally, the debut is still the band’s best album and I never saw what was so great about Marco Aro’s time in the band – although his Face Down project is pretty good, if you do miss him) The Haunted added Prog to their sound and released a surprisingly deep album, The Dead Eye, only to get abuse from fans and critics for the more melodic style. Listening to it again in preparation for this review, it’s amazing how good an album it is, messing with your expectations constantly and working better as a whole instead of individual songs, with plenty of great riffs from Anders Björler and Patrik Jensen.

Yet for some reason the band has a poor reputation in the Metal underground, perhaps due to Peter Dolving’s unfortunate knack for saying silly things, as intelligent as he otherwise seems to be. Well, whatever the cause, the band has a new album out, and they’ve retreated before the storm a little – this is a combination of the Thrash catchiness of the debut mixed with the ‘Core anger of rEVOLVEr, a dollop of experimentation topping things off. The album opens with probably the best song, Moronic Colossus, a rather unfortunate (or ironic?) choice of sample spitting out ‘how many times must a man listen to the same bicker and bullshit?’ before Dolving’s bellow begins over typically groovy riffing. It’s awesome, no doubt, and the twisty, dynamic songwriting is the mark of seasoned musicians. One tight solo later, you’ll be hooked, and if this is the first time you’ve heard The Haunted’s brand of Thrash as opposed to their many inferior imitators, then you’ll be in heaven. Fans, however, will take a bit more convincing.

Whilst tracks like Pieces have plenty of decent riffing (and the nearly Industrial feel of the drumming is a nice touch) you do tend to feel that The Haunted have messed up (musically if not commercially) by not developing the Prog directions taken on the previous album as much as they could have. I don’t hear much evidence, as I’ve seen stated elsewhere, that the band are unsure of their direction – all members are pulling together, Dolving’s rarely sounded angrier – but there are moments where this feels like Haunted-by-numbers, such as Trenches, which should be a great song and has all the necessary elements (even some rather weird backing wails) but somehow fails to excite.

The fuck-up at the start of Ceremony, on the other hand, will catch you unawares (apparently the album was recorded completely live in the studio) and the Western piano and percussion at the start of Skuld are a pleasant surprise, and that it goes on to Dead Can Dance-y chanting only makes more typical Haunted fare like Crusher hit harder. Other ‘atmospheric’ stuff like Rivers Run takes a strangely effective Doom/Heavy Metal style, and Iron Mask proves that you can mix melody and Metal without sounding dull and tired. Yeah, talking to you, Slipknot.

All in all, The Haunted’s sixth album will please fans and piss off the haters, which is pretty much what was expected. The steps forward are nice, the steps backward rather familiar, but heck, considering that the band’s debut album still languishes forgotten in the bottom of many people’s collections rather than at the top where it belongs, this is a more than decent new album from a band that helped to reinvigorate Thrash during the 90s more than most.

Killing Songs :
Moronic Colossus, Skuld, Crusher, Iron Mask, Faultline
Goat quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by The Haunted that we have reviewed:
The Haunted - Exit Wounds reviewed by Goat and quoted 73 / 100
The Haunted - Unseen reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 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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