The Haunted


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The Haunted's fourth studio album was their first for renowned metal label Century Media, and one has to wonder if the Swedish neo-thrash favorites felt they had something to prove to their new record company. Picking up the slack from 2003's typically energetic but somewhat tired-sounding One Kill Wonder opus (recorded soon after one of the Björler brothers threatened to derail the band's progress by going temporarily AWOL), rEVOLVEr brings back that elusive element called "songwriting" (remember that?), so crucial to keeping speed-laden records from concluding on a disappointing "what just happened?" note. No such fears here, since the "EVOLVE" purposefully inserted into rEVOLVEr's title is immediately evident in new offerings "Abysmal" (unnaturally melodic and ultra-creepy), "Burnt to a Shell" (prowling with desperate intensity), and "My Shadow" (a bonus track that's simply deeply disturbing). More importantly, even when the Haunted don't deviate from the norm, there's still a palpable sense of renewed conviction and desire driving these scalding hot tracks. At their most familiar, frenetic album highlights such as "No Compromise," "Sabotage," and "Sweet Relief" bring modern sonic sensibilities to tried-and-tested old-school thrash techniques derived directly from Slayer, then drill them right through your skull with incredible, nearly vertigo-inducing ferocity. Conversely, though slower cuts like "All Against All," "Nothing Right," and "Liquid Burns" (which explodes into a speed-fest after a deliberate intro) never quite attain escape velocity, their grueling inexorability feels just as devastating at times. Through it all, the Björler brothers' roots in the awesome At the Gates can still be felt, lingering in the foundation but never overpowering the Haunted's distinctly violent sound. Likewise, returning original vocalist Peter Dolving brings greater versatility and an urgently barking, hardcore vocal style to the proceedings. His impassioned approach and memorable (even anthemic) choruses -- although perhaps never quite as teetotal, frothing-at-the-mouth loony as At the Gates' legendary Thomas Lindberg -- are certainly better suited to spearhead the Haunted's bracing, full-impact assault tactics. These are also expertly adorned by the virtuoso displays put in by lead guitarist Patrik Jensen and Danish drummer extraordinaire Per M. Jensen, making for an album that, despite taking this many chances, should appease both old and new fans alike, if given time to sink in.

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