The Haunted

Warning Shots

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2009's Warning Shots compiles the first five years of the Haunted's career; a period when the Swedish quintet helped spearhead a mostly European neo-thrash movement that brought a modern perspective to the original '80s template, and effectively preceded the next wave of exceedingly copycat, so called "vintage" thrashing bands of the late '00s. Also, since the Haunted was fleshed out with three members of then-recently defunct At the Gates -- guitarist Anders Björler, bassist Jonas Björler, and drummer Adrian Erlandsson -- after being founded by Seance guitarist Patrik Jensen, it wasn't at all surprising that they then drafted a true character in their singer, ex-Mary Beats Jane member Peter Dolving. Dolving's barking, almost hardcore-based style may have been completely different from the savage howling of ATG frontman Tomas Lindberg, but its fist-to-the-jaw directness was a perfect fit for the pulverizing, no-fuss thrashers driving the group's eponymous debut, including choice representatives here, "Hate Song," "Undead," and "In Vein." Fans and critics largely seemed to agree, but the Haunted experienced serious personnel issues almost immediately. First it was Erlandsson, who rather bewilderingly quit the group the very next year, donned corpse paint, and joined cartoon black metal band Cradle of Filth; but the ensuing departure of the mercurial Dolving to launch a short-lived band of his own was arguably even more challenging for the then still fledgling Haunted to cope with. His replacement was former Face Down vocalist Marco Aro, who certainly lacked Dolving's peculiar personality and lyric-writing quirks, but also helped the Haunted settle down after the potentially disorienting lineup issues, while establishing his presence on the next two albums with a fuller, more death-like, growling attack. And despite these fundamental differences, the way Warning Shots presents its tracks non-chronologically helps to dispel any listener misconception that the Haunted went through some kind of radical musical transformation in the process, when, in fact, both Aro and new drummer Per M. Jensen simply gave their original goals continuity. 2000's sophomore The Haunted Made Me Do It saw only minor deviations from the debut's Spartan bludgeoning, via the Slayer-esque intro "Dark Intentions," and melodically charged moshers like "Trespass" and "Hollow Ground"; while 2003's longer in-the-works One Kill Wonder heightened the brutality and the songwriting focus with the outlandishly frantic title track and "Everlasting," plus the admittedly ATG-like "Shadow World." Not content with sticking to the basics, Warning Shots presents a second disc featuring 12 additional tracks, between live highlights from 2001's Live Rounds in Tokyo and the better demos for and B-sides left over from these three album sessions. Among them, the most compelling are probably the One Kill Wonder Japanese bonus cut "Creed," a wonderfully frenzied cover of Candlemass' "Well of Souls," and the demo for "Undead," which, as the band suggests, easily tops the final album version. This retrospective ends here because, as fans are well aware, Marco Aro decided to leave the Haunted after their third album, having become increasingly disenchanted with their extensive touring habits. Thus the door was opened for Peter Dolving's return -- just in time for the band's move to new label Century Media, where they carried on with great success and a consistent batch of releases that will surely require a summary of their own. Until then, Warning Shots is the place to start.

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