The Haunted - _One Kill Wonder_
(Earache, 2003)
by: Adam Lineker (8.5 out of 10)
Ambient snarls of distorted metal drill into your psyche before the introductory bludgeon of "Privation of Faith Inc." erupts from the speakers, confirming your suspicion that The Haunted have become just that little bit darker. The first track proper "Godpuppet" is a chaotic and violent mining of the traditional thrash vein, with some of the most blistering riffs the band have recorded since "Undead". _One Kill Wonder_ is also the heaviest record that The Haunted have released so far. Aside from the production, the major perpetrator of this new found brutality is vocalist Marco Aro, who delivers a far more assured performance than his debut on 2000's _The Haunted Made Me Do It_ opus. The frontman's voice has become thicker and more powerful since he first joined The Haunted and he dominates this record, asserting merciless authority over the deep and aggressive music.

"Shadow World" is one of the best tracks The Haunted have ever put their name to: a melodic and infectious work that has potential for 'classic' status track. "Everlasting" is a more thrash orientated piece of violence, burning with choice riffwork and malevolence, before the second peak of the album arrives to the sound of marching feet. "DOA" recalls the ending motif from "Forensick" (_The Haunted_, 1998) and is a masterpiece of musical intensity; it also is another reminder of how Marco Aro has transformed from Pete Dolving-worshipping hopeful into one of extreme metal's finest singers. With an irresistible chorus and an excellent development section, the piece ends in a cataclysm of duelling lead tremolos that merge into the wail of an air raid siren, leaving a disturbing pause before "Demon Eyes" kicks in. The first moment of respite from the onslaught, the instrumental is a rather average affair. With little virtuosity to impress us, this is something of an interval before the carnage continues.

Although the tracks are solid and the musicianship high, the thrash engine loses a little steam (going into downward spiral) for a couple of tracks until the opening riff of "Shithead" bites in and pulls things back up again. "Bloodletting" is a change of pace, an insidious barrage of grooving riffage held together by Per Moller Jensen's drumming. As the music surges in and out, we are treated to the lead interplay of Anders Bjorler and guest Michael Amott (Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars, formerly of Carcass). The album closes with the title track providing an exciting but all too brief full stop. _One Kill Wonder_ is a strong work, displaying all the talent of one of metal's finest bands. As a devout fan, I feel that a couple of tracks are a little bit Haunted-by-numbers; although a few more wouldn't have gone a miss. Yet this is still one of the best records I have heard all year; I am deeply sorry to break the straight run of nines awarded by CoC in the past -- don't let it put you off!

(article published 30/6/2003)

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