(So Very) Dead on Arrival
The Haunted, Martyr AD and Dead to Fall @ The Mean Fiddler, London, 24 February 2005
by: Jackie Smit
There must be a uniquely intriguing backstory to this evening's show -- or at the very least, some sort of explanation as to why The Haunted were able to blow Arch Enemy completely off stage when they landed in London last December, yet tonight (as the main event, no less) are little more than a hazy suggestion of the glory that I have personally witnessed them achieving on many an occasion. With the exception of the always animated Patrick Jensen, the only real emotion being communicated from the stage during the course of their hour-long set is an acute sense of discontent and not wanting to be here. Peter Dolving's interaction with the crowd is virtually non-existent; his apparent lack of excitement only matched by a sub-standard vocal performance that has him sounding out of breath for half the time, and almost a parody of his recorded counterpart for the rest. Not to be outdone, his usually lively bandmates present a similar portrait of depression and boredom, barely gracing the audience with so much as a neck twirl.

And it's not like The Haunted had much to prove this evening either. They're currently touring off the back of a massively acclaimed record, and their support acts were, to turn a phrase, laughable. Dead to Fall were first to take the stage -- their music little more than a patchy, incoherent stew of beatdowns and pseudo-metalcore drivel, that at best sounds like the continuation of their opening number. While marginally more interesting, Martyr AD aren't exactly about to set the world on ablaze either, and their set was saved largely by to a frontman who does actually seem to have a little oomph in both voice and belly.

So with tracks like "Hate Song", "Hollow Ground", "99", "DOA" and "Abysmal" rounding out their arsenal, tonight shouldn't have been any less than a knock-down, drag-out triumph. Instead, tonight The Haunted come off as limp-wristed, tired old gits that almost make me want to re-think the perfect score I awarded to last year's _rEVOLVEr_. Having been compared to Slayer on so many occasions since their inception, I would hate to imagine the band following their example of complacency; but based on the evidence of tonight's performance, it's a possibility which is unfortunately impossible to rule out.

(article submitted 28/2/2005)

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