A flashback: Winter of 2003. A slightly more bushy-tailed youngster makes his way into a record store. His has been a difficult journey, through the harsh brutality of winter and traffic and what not. Finally, the boy makes his way back to his vehicle with an album tucked under his arm. This is the tale of that boys' musical journey, and the album, "One Kill Wonder".
Having been a tremendous fan of the Swedish prophets At The Gates, I naturally assumed that the bands two principal songwriters would continue to put out the goods, and I would not tolerate failure. The album began. The intro track was nice, tight, HEAVY. I was giddy with excitement by the time "Godpuppet" made it's way through the speakers. My euphoria, however, was to be short-lived.
I found this track to be little more than a Slayer song with death metal vocals. Surely there must be some mistake? I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, but thankfully, the tune was a short one. After having my feathers ruffled so early on into an album I was starting to have my doubts. But then, by the light of the saviour, no doubt, "Shadow World" arrived. The song was everything an At The Gates maniac could have possibly dreamed of. Catchy yet brutal riffing, superb leads.
Paradise. Once again I was feeling on top of the world. "Everlasting" came next, and I found myself echoing the same profanity as when "Godpuppet" made it's pseudo-thrash appearance. However, there were hooks, and the drumming was enough to make me buckle at the knees. I gasped for breath as "D.O.A." mades it's appearance. And just when I regained a regular breathing pattern, the song booted me squarely in the balls. That's right folks; this was one hell of a song. While no doubt showing a Slayer influence here, the band made it their own and didn't merely steal a track off of "Reign In Blood" when Jeff Hanneman wasn't looking.
"Demon Eyes" lurked out of the shadows next, and I was rather relieved to discover it was an instrumental, as Marco Aro (Vocals) seemed to possess absolutely no range whatsoever. This angered me, so I let him know. He still hasn't returned my call. "Demon Eyes" was a slower number, and it was very well composed. It started more melodically and steadily built a heavier and heavier basis. Fine musicianship my friends.
I was really beginning to like this album, even with the faults it displayed. It had diversity (except in the vocals dammit), and it appeared as if the band was actually trying to make a single cohesive statement. But then, it all went wrong. "Urban Predator" revealed itself to be a very boisterous and agitating tune. Like the fat kid at summer camp who gets all the snacks and pushes you into the mud. Bastard. The vocals are probably worse here than on any tune on the record, and after about twenty five minutes straight, that says something. Luckily, "Downward Spiral" came along and saved me from a fate worse than death. This tune has a very anthematic chorus, and Jonas Bjorler steals the main songwriting credit for a change. Oh, how I love this song.
"***head" is next, and yes it's seriously the title. It's actually very well written, and the lyrics seem a bit deeper than the rest given you can decipher them.
"Bloodletting" is simply a terrible track. From the lyrics right down to the structure, it seemed they were trying to envoke some sort of divine wrath now. I couldn't bear it. It was like catching the malaysion bird flu. In your ear.
Disappointment settled in. There were some great songs no doubt, but there wasn't that track by tack quality of "Slaughter Of The Soul" or "With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness". The last track "One Kill Wonder", saved this album from the depths of, well, my closet. A very lively track, this contained Marcos' most brutal vocals. Whether or not that's a good thing is for you to decide.
Is The Haunted a good band? In my opinion, yes. Can they hold their own against At The Gates? Certainly not. However, I would recommend this album for the aforementioned great tracks alone, and the rest you can either skip or make fun of. Or maybe you'll like them. Who knows? A good album overall by a good band, but compared to what they're capable of this is rather unnerving, especially when you take into account that this is arguably their best effort. 3.5/5