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Album Reviews : The Haunted – Unseen

By on March 25, 2011

Straight off the bat, all that media you may have read about this album being a return to the ripping “rEVOLVEr” era Haunted…forget it. It’s very far removed from anything The Haunted have done in the past. Sometimes this is a good thing, however unfortunately for Haunted this is NOT the case.

Haunted have the unenviable record of every post rEVOLVEr being hit and miss. The Dead Eye earned itself universal scorn, Versus wasn’t as bad as a lot of critics made it out to be, and now we get Unseen which if I had to describe it in one word would be….weird. From the minimalist cover art to the brooding songs that clutter its running time, Unseen is the strangest alum the Swedish thrashers have released so far. The funny thing is a lot of the noise inside the album hardly qualifies as heavy metal, much less thrash, though a few tidbits still harken to the band’s roots. The trademark furious thrash metal sound is all but gone in favour of a more groove orientated laid-back approach bordering at times on stoner-rock.

Songs like ‘No Ghost’ or ‘The Unseen’ flirt openly with annoying nu metal tendencies. Although ‘No Ghost’ is still a decent track putting the nu-metal riffing to one side. On a whole choruses sound cleaner and friendlier and are just too slick. The pedal is only seldom put to the metal. The bridge in opening track ‘Never Better’ even dares to venture in pop-rock waters and it just sounds very unnatural and un-The Haunted-like. More than ever Dolving’s vocal performance is a love it or hate it affair. His clean vocal experiments often result in a southern US drawl that somehow does not sound right.

All isn’t well with the faster paced tracks either. ‘Never Better’, ‘Motionless’ and ‘The Skull’ lack the aggression and impact of songs like ’99?, ‘All Against All’ and ‘Moronic Colossus’. A pity really. ‘Ocean Park’ is a strange acoustic styled camp fire song that doesn’t make much sense to me.

It can’t be helped, boys and girls, for The Haunted are a lot happier exploring their capabilities than giving what the fans are screaming for (pure molten ferocious Swedish thrash metal). The real tragedy of Unseen, however, is a lot of the songs aren’t that impressive. Sure, No Ghost stands tall, but had that track been on rEVOLVEr or Made Me Do It, it would have been universally skipped. This is about as commendable as one can be with Unseen after the first few preliminary listens.

Unseen is a step in a new direction and whatever flack the band gets for it is their own fault. Front-man Peter Dolving has stated again and again that The Haunted are more inclined to expand boundaries than stick with a formula. If you can’t stand that mindset and its musical offspring, then stay away from Unseen as it’s hard to see anyone other than a very discerning listening enjoying this disc. Even though you cannot really hold it against The Haunted that they want to develop themselves and their music, this time round their experimentalism simply does not yield an enjoyable listening experience. I am very sorry to conclude that ‘The Unseen’ is by far the least interesting and inspiring addition to The Haunted’ s catalogue to date.

3.5/10

Tracklisting:
1. “Never Better” 3:34
2. “No Ghost” 3:34
3. “Catch 22” 3:44
4. “Disappear” 3:50
5. “Motionless” 4:25
6. “Unseen” 3:02
7. “The Skull” 4:04
8. “Ocean Park” 0:49
9. “The City” 3:08
10. “Them” 4:06
11. “All Ends Well” 4:16
12. “Done” 3:49
Band: The Haunted
Album: Unseen
Year: 2011
Genre: Thrash
Origin: Sweden
Label: Century Media

 

 

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.