The Haunted Feb02


Related Articles

Share this Article

Help us spread the word.
Share this article.

The Haunted

Album: Unseen
Label: Century Media
Tracks: 12
Release Date: March 21st in Europe
Lenght: 42′ 30″


Riff Score: 5.0/10


The Haunted have been around for over a decade, releasing album after album and maintaining a coherent line-up. What hasn’t been so coherent is the quality level of their releases, which has fluctuated quite a bit during their career. Now it’s time for their seventh studio effort, Unseen to see the light of day. Should it be left unseen or is it a good release after all?

Well to put it simply, no it’s not at all a good effort! And the review could end right here, but if you want to know why it isn’t a good album just keep reading.

The Haunted are a band that has always divided the metal community. They were formed after the demise of Sweden legends At The Gates, by some of their ex-members who wanted to keep writing music. Hailed by many as heretics for defiling the At The Gates legacy and heralded as the second coming of the Sweden gods by others, this was an inevitable weight they had to carry ever since, and the most fracturing point of view when discussing their music. But legacy is one thing, what about their music?

They had a good start in 1998, with Peter Dolving as their vocalist, spewing out hardcore vocals on top of melodeath songs mixed with half-thrash riffs (yes kids, The Haunted were never a Thrash band!) and providing for a decent debut album. Then Peter was out of the band, so they released two more albums with Marco Aro which had a more guttural, not so hardcorish tone. I personally always favoured Peter’s vocals, but despite that they were still decent efforts. Then 2004 arrived with their album Revolver, and things just exploded. With Peter returning to the line-up, the band released their most aggressive most vicious and well written album, one that I still fancy hearing even 7 years after its release. You would assume that after such a great release they would stick to their formula and write some more decent albums, but 2006 took another turn for the worse with experimentations, and 2008 saw them trying to bring back the aggression, resulting in mixed opinions.

So now it’s 2011 and the album is Unseen, what have they done now? For starters one could ask “Where did the aggression go?”, because this album has little to none! As I said before I always favoured Peter’s hardcore vocals as I think they’re an important part of The Haunted’s sound, but here he rarely uses them preferring to use clean singing throughout most of the album. And let’s face it when it comes to clean singing Peter’s tone is quite average, but it’s when he uses his high-pitch that it gets really annoying. So Peter stick to hardcore vocals, please!

Then you have the actual songs.

“Never Better” opens up the album with a sound that instantly reminded me of 36 Crazyfists, privileging verse-chorus structure with clean singing mixed with harsh vocals, and some decent half-thrash riffs. It has some clean sections on the leads where they just keep the rhythm going with the guitar repeating a riff, something they use throughout the album. It’s not a bad track and you feel confident enough to listen to the rest of the album, still wondering why they sounded like 36 Crazyfists. Then you listen to “No Ghost” with its groove rhythm reminding of a bad Pantera rip-off, and you start realizing something that’s confirmed with further listening. They toned down the aggression and speed, gave prevalence to clean singing and simplified their song structures, turning themselves into an almost nu-metal sounding act. Ok I know this is a harsh thing to say about a band like The Haunted, but just listen to “Disappear”, “Motionless” and “Unseen”, with their nu-metal-esque rhythm and vocals, with song structures and whining chorus again bringing to mind 36 Crazyfists. And if you’re still not convinced, then listen to the worst song they ever wrote “All Ends Well”, and tell me if that’s not a radio-friendly hit-song. Peter himself even stated: “This last year I’ve focused more than ever on just how a song is more than just music and words, how really the well crafted gives something more to me as a listener. Both me and Anders have felt strongly about really taking our time with building subtle layers of harmonies. Textures to give the listener a real audio soundscape within the song. I’m understanding just how cool an instrument the human voice is.” Well thanks a lot for that!

Not everything is bad though as tracks like “Never Better”, “The Skull”, “The City” and especially “Them” prove they can still bring something to the table, even though it comes along with clean singing. It’s these tracks and the fact that this new approach will appeal to a wider amount of fans that keeps me from getting this album a lower score. If you think that recent In Flames is the best thing out there then this is an album for you. If you favour Nu-metal/Groove Metal over other genres then you’ll like this. If you’re expecting a decent slab of melodeath mixed with hardcore vocals and post-thrash riffs then look somewhere else, because The Haunted stopped doing what maintained their critics and worshippers balanced, and that is writing decent songs. Sadly the scales now turn over to the critic’s side.

I’m going to listen to Revolver now.


Track List

01. | Never Better
02. | No Ghost
03. | Catch 22
04. | Disappear
05. | Motionless
06. | Unseen
07. | The Skull
08. | Ocean Park
09. | The City
10. | Them
11. | All Ends Well
12. | Done