The Haunted - _Exit Wounds_
(Century Media, 2014)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (6 out of 10)
After 2011's sub-par _Unseen_, The Haunted went through some serious line-up changes that included the departure of founding member Anders Björler, longtime vocalist Peter Dolving and the Danish skin-pounding veteran Per Møller Jensen. This left the band in a position where it was unknown whether they'd continue or just disappear in a snowy Swedish forest. As the days went by, The Haunted announced the return of former vocalist Marco Aro and former drummer Adrian Erlandsson. Guitarist Ola Englund became the last member to complete the line-up in preparation for his The Haunted debut on this year's _Exit Wounds_.

Despite the confusing bandwagon of consonant-laden Scandinavian names, The Haunted doesn't actually sound like a new band, because it's basically still four guys with a lot of experience working together and putting out The Haunted albums. So with only one Björler left in the fore -- Jonas, that is --, _Exit Wounds_ also reintroduces the more aggressive Marco Aro with his trademark barks as he wastes little time in marking his proverbial territory on "Cutting Teeth". Comparisons to Peter Dolving's work are of course inevitable and, at this point in The Haunted's career, they actually point towards Aro's return.

Dolving's performance on previous records shifted slightly towards more singing that sounded forced and uninspired on later efforts; case in point: _Unseen_. His vocal abilities are indeed more distinguishable than Aro's run of the mill viciousness, but the last two records revealed a drained vocalist. This also showed in the music, which probably was the main reason behind all those changes; the band was just spinning its wheels. So now with their eighth full-length finally seeing the light of day, The Haunted sounds like a band that's looking back at its own back catalogue to re-establish its name.

_Exit Wounds_ consists of fourteen tracks that clock in at forty-four minutes; all of which are kept short and to the point. The aforementioned "Cutting Teeth" is a typical up-tempo starter to get the album rolling. It is then followed by "My Salvation", which takes a while to build up a head of steam, but explodes with a thoroughly At the Gates kind of riff; not the most original but also not the most surprising, considering the line-ups. After an above-average start, the album starts to take a dip in form as "Psychonaut" conjures up Darkest Hour a little too vividly with its chorus and "Trend Killer" overflows with extra busy vocal work. This is slightly rectified near the end, as "My Enemy" shells out sixty one seconds that would easily fit on a grindcore album and "Kill the Light" hits with a very subtle solo that slowly creeps in and steals the show.

Overall, _Exit Wounds_ isn't the second awakening of The Haunted by any stretch of the imagination. It's also not an album that continues in the direction of its predecessor. It is, at best, a carefully calculated step back to a sound that has served the band well in the band. It also provides the returning band members with some much-needed time in the band's musical comfort zone as they slowly regain their form and look towards the future. Playing it safe from the compositional standpoint with this record didn't turn out to be a decision that weighs the band down, but chances of success will be limited for future records if the same approach is taken. However, with the current line-up, The Haunted does have what it takes to stand out among the herd.rler left in the fore -- Jonas, that is --, _Exit Wounds_ also reintroduces the more aggressive Marco Aro with his trademark barks as he wastes little time in marking his proverbial territory on


(article published 13/11/2014)

12/31/2004 J Smit The Haunted: Evolution Not Compromise
3/28/2011 A El Naby 4 The Haunted - Unseen
10/5/2008 J Smit 8.5 The Haunted - Versus
10/5/2006 J Smit 7.5 The Haunted - The Dead Eye
9/23/2004 J Smit 10 The Haunted - rEVOLVEr
6/30/2003 A Lineker 8.5 The Haunted - One Kill Wonder
4/12/2002 P Schwarz 9 The Haunted - Live Rounds in Tokyo
10/25/2000 A Bromley 9 The Haunted - The Haunted Made Me Do It
10/1/1998 A Bromley 9 The Haunted - The Haunted
12/2/2005 J Smit The Haunted / God Forbid Absolution Not a Frozen Room
2/28/2005 J Smit The Haunted / Martyr AD / Dead to Fall (So Very) Dead on Arrival
6/8/2003 A Lineker The Haunted / Stampin' Ground / December Marco Aro Dances for the Cat People
5/13/2001 D Rocher Nile / The Haunted / Carnal Forge / The Forsaken At the Haunted Gates of Vengeance
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