Review Summary: The Haunted maintain the momentum from Exit Wounds with a similarly straightforward and tightly constructed piece of modern metal.
The Haunted's middle ground between thrash metal and At The Gates
style melodeath has always lent itself well to mainstream modern metal, but after their steep decline following the pretty good The Dead Eye
they re-energized successfully with Exit Wounds
. With a good mix between technical thrashers and catchy anthems, it showed that The Haunted's base formula had plenty of life left, assisted by new lead guitarist and songwriter Ola Englund (ex-Six Feet Under
). Strength in Numbers is essentially more of the same, but with even sharper songwriting.
After the nicely melodic and reasonably energetic introductory track, The Haunted launch straight into Brute Force
, a frankly killer track. At once groovy and vicious, it pretty much sets the album up with so much momentum that it rides over all the rough spots without slowing down. Even with slower and more groove focused tracks like Spark
, with its highly melodic chorus, and Preachers of Death
, the overall sense of energy remains, thanks to a sharp, harsh sounding production on the guitars that leaves the whole package feeling sharper and cleaner without losing all of its chunk. Central highlights like Tighten the Noose
and The Fall
elevate the technical elements as well, leaving the overall songwriting package very well rounded.
The usual issues with this kind of late-career metal album are present; the songwriting is pretty predictable, and the ideas aren't really new so much as refined. This ultimately doesn't hold Strength in Numbers back as much as a few weaker tracks: This is the End
is a bad attempt at imitating a more nu-metal sound, and is by far the weakest track present, simultaneously dull and grating. Thankfully, the album caps off with the great Means to an End
, bringing the overall package back up to speed and form. Besides the one misstep, and the lack of innovation on offer, Strength in Numbers really does everything you'd want from The Haunted, and is another successful shot at the groovy thrash sound they've more or less monopolized in the 2000s.