The Haunted - _rEVOLVEr_
(Century Media, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
When The Haunted unleashed their debut record back in 1998, it not only came as a breath of fresh air in a world dominated by flagging heroes and nu-metal; it kickstarted a new wave of aggressive music. Perhaps almost as significantly, it served as a proverbial magnifying glass that exposed the sizeable chinks in the armour of stalwarts like Slayer et al, who at that point undisputedly ruled the thrash metal roost. Soon enough, a host of very talented acts were answering the call, releasing record after record of hard-hitting metal that nodded respectfully in the direction of the old school, while at the same time taking the genre to dizzier heights than it had ever been. As time passed by, The Haunted weren't the only big dogs in the yard anymore. Of course, their subsequent releases didn't really help either. Though not weak by any means, the comparatively lackadaisical approach of _The Haunted Made Me Do It_ could certainly not match the relentless violence of the band's opening war cry, and even when the band did try to recapture the raw aggression of their early days with _One Kill Wonder_ they came up short, branded formulaic and uninventive. Clearly something needed to be done.Sticking very much to the promise not so subtly hinted it in the album's moniker, _rEVOLVEr_ is the sound of The Haunted not so much rewriting the rulebook, but refining everything that has thus far contributed to the band's fearsome reputation. The melodies are still there, along with the tight, razor-sharp hooks, and the thunderous mid-tempo breakdowns -- only this time, they're more complex and harder hitting than ever before. The first indication that the Swedes mean business can be found early on, when a purposefully stuttering, awkward intro gives way to a riff that's made of the stuff that had people singing along to _Reign in Blood_ nearly two decades ago. "99" follows up "No Compromise"'s bludgeoning statement of intent with a rolling mid-tempo thrasher that's custom-made for mosh-pit pain. And if these tracks still aren't able to convince you that you're listening to the best album to bear The Haunted's logo, then the acerbic pre-chorus of "All Against All" is guaranteed to put a devilish grin on even the most jaded face.More than anything though, the key to _rEVOLVEr_'s appeal lies in the fact that this time round The Haunted are confident enough to take chances and make them stick, the best example being the final climactic dirge of "My Shadow". In a sense, the reinstatement of Peter Dolving in the vocalist's booth proves to be another weapon in their already impressive arsenal. Not that I have anything against Marco Aro's efforts mind you, but when Dolving dementedly croons "Come a little bit closer, so that I can see what you taste like" on "Abysmal", you can't help but feel that a prodigal son has returned back to his rightful home. Certainly though, if time off was what was needed for him to deliver the outstanding performance that he has here, then it was well justified indeed.So, for now, The Haunted have once again left pretty much everybody trailing in the dust. How long they will remain in that top spot is anyone's guess, but for now, one would hope that someone somewhere plays this record loudly enough for Kerry King to sit up and take notice.
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