History reveals to us that the departure of a lead singer usually pans out to a groups' imminent demise. So suffice to say it was a shock when after Marco Aro's exit from the group, none other than Peter Dolving (Original Haunted vocalist; for all you know-nots) took his place. Perhaps it wasn't too shocking for Haunted fans, as line-up changes are as common in this band as protests against the Iraq War. Nevertheless, it was certainly a nice surprise that Dolving came back into the fold, and critics and audiences alike were expecting something big from the five-piece from Sweden. Will they pull it off? Will they withstand the pressure? Let's read on...
Of all The Haunted albums, I do not believe there is a better opener than "No Compromise". It becomes apparent about a minute and a half into this song that this is certainly not the same band as before, or even the same genre. Yes, thrash is the fixation point of this album, and this opinion is only reinforced by the next track, "99". After the first track, I was expecting something pretty spiffy, and this song simply let me down. The lyrics are intersting to say the least, covering topics from last minute decisions to pre-teens performing fellatio. I did some probes for sarcasm, but alas...I came up empty.
Next comes "Abysmal", and this seems to be a likely reason for the EVOLVE in the title rEVOLVEr. That said, I really do not like this song. "Bury me in a shallow grave, so the dogs can dig me out". I couldn't help but laugh at how John Wayne-esque this line was sang. That's right, SANG. He actually has an ok singing voice, although I must admit that is not what I was ever hoping to hear on a Haunted album. Ever. The song picks up a bit after Dolving proclaims "I'd be better of covered in LYE!!!!!", but it was too late for me.
By this point I was seriously disturbed. I was really hoping against hope the rest of the album would continue like "No Compromise", and the next track, "Sabotage", jolted me back to my initial smug sense of satisfaction. This is indeed a thrash tune the way they are meant to be written, and I can only conclude that someone was very angry when writing this tune. "All Against All" is an infectious little ditty, and I forsee this being one of those songs fans either love or hate, and it's easy to see why. This is a very poppy sounding metal song, and I actually rather enjoyed it at first. But the bridge killed it for me. "Broken promises, Like ashes through my fingers, it eats away my senses and my soul. I wither... perhaps I said to much? I just want somebody I can trust". I found this line to be unbearable. T'was sang in almost a Justin Timberlake-like refrain. However, he holds the note on the word "Trust" and gradually starts screaming it, so that's pretty suave I suppose. There is also a neat little lead from Anders following this line.
By this point in the album, I'd imagine you're either itching for more, or else putting in your closet, never to be heard from again. Do not make a final decision yet, however, as you may be pleasantly (or horrifically) surprised by the next half of the album. "Sweet Relief" is one of my favorites on here, and you really pick up a "do or die" kind of feel from it. I recommend you put this song on when you are almost certain to be late to school or work. "Burnt to a Shell" continues in the same vein as "Abysmal", albeit with slightly less corny lyrics and vocal delivery. Not the best, but definately not the worst.
As I'm sure most of you know, Lou Keller from Sick Of It All makes a guest appearance on "Who Will Decide". I've never liked Lou Keller, so this track did indeed surprised me when I found it stuck in my head some twenty odd minutes after hearing it. Such a catchy and quirky chorus. "Nothing Right" is probably the weakest song on the album. "Abysmal" was lame, "99" was daring, and "Nothing Right" is... nothing at all. It doesn't really even have it's own personality. Next is "Liquid Burns", and it has a very lovely guitar intro, and even better drumming by Per Moller Jensen. This is without question one of the highlights of the album. Following this is "Fire Alive", and this is a fairly competent track. Nothing special though, you know.
"Smut King" is a song written by Jensen, and it really isn't anything to hype about in my opinion. It's very thrashy and cool, but compared to the high points of this album it doesn't stand on it's own at all. And finally, the redeemer, "My Shadow". The longest and possibly the darkest song on the album, I found myself listening to this more than any other song on the album. A great performance by all the band members, and a good closer to the album.
Overall, I'd say that this isn't near a perfect album, but if thrash mixed with a little bit of poppy vocals and clean guitar lines is your shtick, you might dig this. The highpoints are really high, the low points are incredibly low, and everything in between is rather bland. 3/5.