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.