Once labelled as a mere Slayer clone, The Haunted have come a long way. Especially with the return of singer Peter Dolving the band started to break out from their thrash metal confinements. Albums like rEVOLVEr (2004) en Versus (2008) are still more or less thrash metal based, while The Dead Eye (2006) has quite an experimental edge. This years marks the release of the latest album by Dolving and Co, simply entitled Unseen.
Whether you like the new album or not depends on your level of appreciation for the experimental antics by the band on The Dead Eye. Unseen is another experimental adventure, heavily inspired by its precursor. Any references to their thrash metal days are all but gone.
On Unseen it’s Peter Dolving’s diverse singing and vocal style which is most in the forefront. A smart move, because he’s one of the best singers in the business. Besides the experimental edge, most of the songs are quite laid-back and catchy. This new approach works very well with the mid paced material, like No Ghost, Catch 22, Disappear, The City and Them.
Things go wrong with the more up-tempo songs, like Never Better and Motionless. They work within the context of Unseen, but they pale in comparison to the fury and aggression of tracks like 99, All Against All, Moronic Colossus, Little Cage and Crusher. Ocean Park is a sad attempt to create an acoustic camp fire song and All Ends Well is The Haunted at their slickest.
Unseen has a rather dry, but powerful sound. It does enhance the almost stoner rock feel of the album. Courtesy of the skilful fingers of Tue Madsen (Mnemic, Moonspell).
I do admire the experimental approach of Unseen. It certainly leads to some brilliant moments, but the album falls flat on its face with the lack of aggression in the faster songs. It will certainly divide The Haunted‘s fan base again and I find it very hard to value this album in comparison to its rather illustrious predecessors.
Written by Raymond Westland