THE HAUNTED – Eye of the Storm

thehaunted.eyeofthestormNearly three years and three band members replaced and THE HAUNTED appear ready to atone for their previously subpar releases.  If the three songs on Eye of the Storm are any indication of where the band’s head is at, then it’s time to rejoice.  On this 7″, THE HAUNTED are back to doing what they do best: thrashing better than any band on the planet.

Generally speaking, THE HAUNTED reclaim the sound and style of their first three or four albums.  Interestingly, this digital single/7″ only gets faster with each song.  “Eye of the Storm” is a muscular song which features those sweet but short dynamics and touch of  melancholy that has made the band stand out during their career.  The intro riff on “Infiltrator” is just one of the sweetest metal riffs you’ll ever hear.  So damn good.  Finally, “My Enemy,” is a scorcher complete with Kerry King-like guitar whammy bar action.

Not only is Eye of the Storm a must for fans of the band, it’s a great reason to get excited for the next full-length.  (Century Media Records)

THE HAUNTED – Road Kill

While some bands in the metal genre (i.e. PANTERA, MANOWAR) choose to celebrate the excesses of the wild side of rock ‘n roll lifestyle on their DVDs, THE HAUNTED have chosen to give their fans a more sobering and perhaps more well-rounded look into the touring life of an underground metal band.

The centerpiece of Road Kill is a 65-minute documentary about life on the road, warts and all. The documentary is broken up into different topics/aspects of touring, such as “Hygiene” and “Partying,” with interviews with all of the band’s members, past and present, and their crew and fellow tourmates throughout the years. In a way, it’s a nice history of the band starting from the time that former vocalist Marco Aro quit and original vocalist Peter Dolving rejoined the band. The documentary gives a painfully accurate and thorough education of the trials and tribulations of road life. It’ll leave a different impression on the viewer depending on the viewer’s personal knowledge about this unglamorous side of rock ‘n roll.

The remainder of the DVD is comprised of a 2009 live show in Amsterdam, and THE HAUNTED’s last six music videos. The show is tastefully captured with a dash of subtle style in the form of its sepia color tones, and intimate camera views. The crowd is kept dark while the performance of the band is the sole subject. Road Kill also comes with a CD which is the audio companion of the Amsterdam show along with a few extra songs from the show. And yes, bass is nice and audible. Lastly, five unreleased studio tracks are included. While these aforementioned tracks won’t blast your face off, they are pretty cool and are essential additions to any HAUNTED fans’ collections.

Even though Road Kill intentionally omits the pomp and circumstance of other depictions of the touring life, it’s just as honest and down to earth as THE HAUNTED. (Century Media Records)

SEANCE – Awakening of the Gods

After releasing a strong death metal/thrash debut with Fornever Laid To Rest, SEANCE disbanded after the sub-par Saltrubbed Eyes album. These old school Swedish thrashers feature members of WITCHERY, and have since reunited to release Awakening of the Gods. While this may seem exciting at first, the end result is a disappointing “reunion” album. Comeback albums are usually disappointing since most bands have a very strong early discography, and the “reunion” albums are quite unsatisfactory, as SUFFOCATION‘s Souls To Deny , ANGELCORPSE‘s Of Lucifer and Lightning, and DISSECTION‘s Reinkaos immediately come to mind. Bands like EMPEROR and AT THE GATES knew better and chose not to record another album and taint their legacies.

Awakening of the Gods starts off with “Wasted“, which sounds like an unused WITCHERY song, and the vocals have way too much effects to the point where it becomes real annoying and real boring – real fast. The first seconds of “They” starts off with a more aggressive push but soon thereafter quickly fades into mediocrity. “Your Time Has Come” breathes some life into this album, and if the entire album was like this track, it would be decent. “Flight of the Wicked” is an instrumental track reminiscent of KRISIUN‘s “Diableros“, except it ends up sounding more like a PRIMUS outtake. “Forever Haunted” is the heaviest and best track by far on Awakening of the Gods, but does little to save this album. A far better attempt at an acoustic interlude is offered with “Revel in Death“, and finally segues into the last two unoriginal tracks.

Although there is plenty of talent with SEANCE, the songwriting falls very short, and the result is a watered down WITCHERY album. The days of the brutal Fornever Laid To Rest disc are over, and Awakening of the Gods ends up as a cliched and uninspired release. After this effort, not many people will not miss the band if they decide to hang it up and retire once again. Perhaps former riff-master Jensen, who did not participate on this album, knew better to stick with his current band, THE HAUNTED. (Pulverised Records)

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THE HAUNTED – Versus

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since THE HAUNTED’s debut album was released, and their albums have certainly progressed. Once known solely as “the new band that 3 of the 5 AT THE GATES members are in”, THE HAUNTED have worked hard to make their own name stand out. However, Versus, the sixth studio album, lacks the power and punch of their previous releases. Gone is the all-out thrash assault of the debut album, and instead Versus sounds almost too close to the last few albums, rEVOLVEr and The Dead Eye.

Moronic Colossus” opens the album and throws in a few catchy hooks and classic guitar work by the dynamic duo of Bjorler and Jensen. The rest of the album follows in the same vein of rEVOLVEr, only nothing in particular stands out. The feeling is so strikingly familiar, that at certain points of the album, the songs on Versus seem as if they could have been outtakes from rEVOLVEr sessions.

Peter Dolving’s vocals can get too harsh and hardcore at times for death metal and thrash fans, and that also alienates more fans of Marco Aro’s work when he was with THE HAUNTED. Whether you like it or not, Dolving still has spoken/whisper/singing parts, which are especially noticeable in “Skuld.” “Crusher” may appeal to the liking of older HAUNTED fans, as it stands out as one of the heavier songs on the album, but his constant barrage of screams in a short amount of time is reminiscent of Glen Benton’s continuous barking on recent VITAL REMAINS albums. The closing track, “Imperial Death March” leaves the listener wondering if THE HAUNTED can bounce back with the next album.

While Versus has plenty of “THE HAUNTED” aspects, the album does not do much to capture the ear with memorable songs. Production wise, Versus is less dry than The Dead Eye but lacks the power and heaviness that One Kill Wonder provided. Perhaps riff master extraordinaire Jensen has saved his monster riffs and best material for his former and recently reunited band, SÉANCE.