Review Summary: A Clear step in the wrong direction
My First Review so take it easy on me please
Its been three years since The Haunted released their mediocre, but yet enjoyable album Versus. As a fan of The Haunted, before and after Revolver, I was excited to hear new music from the Swedish thrashers. I had heard the title track Unseen previous to their release, and from hearing this I became uneasy, and uncertain what to expect. But ignorantly I dismissed this as a typical “experimental” Haunted song, for example Skuld, and The Medusa, from Versus and The Dead Eye. The day finally came, and I headed to the local music store, and what I heard was disappointing, and not the band I once loved and cherished, they had transformed drastically, and perhaps for the worst. Before I continue I would first like to make a valid point, I am not against a band changing their sound, or trying to evolve themselves. It’s a difficult task for musicians, to create music that sounds new and refreshed, but also to maintain their core sound, and to preserve a loyal fan base. Its always a gamble when a band tries to change their sound, it will either work in their favor, or destroy them, for example Trivium’s album The Crusade. Thus we must understand a musicians dilemma, and their inherent nature to alter their sound, after all we don’t want the same album written five times every two years. Saying that let us examine the Haunted’s newest release Unseen.
Reverting back to what I already stated, this album is a disappointment to me, and I can speculate that fans of their previous sound will also be disappointed. Gone are the crunchy, fasted paced, thrash riffs. The raw anger, chaotic nature, and pure hatred in Peter Dolving’s voice that we heard on Revolver. Gone is the mix of melody and heaviness we heard in the Dead Eye and Versus. What do we hear now? Well to put it simply, it sound like they took the musical formulas of A Perfect Circle/Tool, mixed it with a Southern slug metal workings of Crowbar, and moulded into a album that lacks structure or a consistent direction. As Peter Dolving describes it:
"Epic. Danceable. Groovy. And very very arty farty metal. With this next record we are going to be taking a piss in the general direction of all the crappy 99.9 percent of generic contemporary Mr. Goatse jerks out there" (Metal Much More.com 2010)
While Dolving’s “Intellectual” , incoherent ramblings are quite amusing, it’s apparent that Dolving and the rest of the band have lost a understanding of what he phrased as “taking a piss in the general direction of all the crappy 99.9 percent of generic contemporary Mr. Goatse jerks out there” ,sorry Dolving, not with this album. Unseen begins with Never Better, a song that begins with familiar territory of the haunted, by this a mean a fasted pace introduction of crunchy guitars, semi-fasted paced drumming, but also dumbed down into simplistic riffs that sounds like Adam Jones of Tool wrote this, but just turned up the Reverb. Then Dolving’s clean vocals kicks in….his over produced, commercial friendly vocals, that sound out of place. Dolving utilizes his clean vocals for a majority of the album, songs like their title track Unseen, Disappear, and Catch 22, and Motionless incorporate Dolvings over produced vocals, melody and rhythmic guitars, but the bass is barley audible within the whole album. For the sake of diplomacy, I do not like to accuses bands of “ripping off” music from others, but the similarity between Dolving and Maynard James Keenan, is a little too noticeable, this is also the case with the music, which seems to have a synthesis of Tool/A Perfect Circle, with the less heavy songs. Whether The Haunted with a Tool/Perfect Circle theme is constitutes a good or bad thing, its up to the listener, but I reiterate that old fans of the haunted thrash roots, like myself, may consider this a horrific betrayal, as harsh as it sounds.
While I have been critical of the Haunted’s new sound, they arguably do have, to some extent, enjoyable tunes. While some songs like The city contain some traces of their old sound, with Dolving’s screams, and raspy vocals, and some level of heaviness within the music, most of the “metalish” tunes are absent of thrash elements. Songs like No Ghost contains a southern slug metal theme, with slow, powerful riffs, that contains elements of Crowbar, and to some extent Down’s debut album Nola. Songs like the Skull, start off with melodic guitars, and Dolvings cleans, but then we get the pleasant surprises of the southern metal elements, this is also the case with songs like Done, that give the over all slug metal atmosphere.
In the case of the Haunted Unseen, It sounds to me like Peter Dolving went through a similar situation of many heavy metal artist, Phil Labonte for example. They screamed all their issues out in the first few albums, they got their therapy, they got all the anger out, now they feel better, and want to sing. Why this may be a obscure idea, and many will not agree with it, it presents an theory of why this has happened, why bands loose their edge, rawness, and aggression. And this is exactly what has happened to the Haunted, all factors that made up the Haunted are gone, their sound has changed, and in my opinion for the worst. The band have dumbed down their music, which is sad to hear, as we know what the Björler brothers are capable of, we have heard it with At the Gates, and the Haunted albums previous to this. Overall a average album.