The Haunted

The Dead Eye

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The return of original vocalist Peter Dolving before the Haunted's fourth album, rEVOLVEr, coincided with the respected Swedish metal band's first deliberate effort to break out of their heretofore self-imposed neo-thrash metal boundaries. But for those unadventurous fans who already bristled at that album's tentative forays "out of the box," their 2006 follow-up, The Dead Eye, may sound tantamount to stylistic treason. Here, token samples of the group's once dominant brisk thrashers (instantly recognizable thanks to their fast-picked notes, originating with Anders and Jonas Bjorler's legendary prequel band, At the Gates) like "The Medication," "The Shifter" and "The Stain" are exceptions, not the rule -- mere olive branches extended out of pity to those obstinate fans. The remainder of The Dead Eye (whose every track title stars with a "the" for some reason) finds the band trafficking in a variety of slower tempos (both "The Drowning" and "The Guilt Trip" get seriously doomy), experimenting with novel guitar textures (hear notions of Meshuggah, the Deftones and Isis in "The Cynic" and "The Failure"), and cutting Dolving loose to try all manner of singing approaches. Therefore, as well as his still-prevalent hardcore bark and ragged screams, you'll hear him actually sing over exceptionally memorable, big chorus numbers like "The Reflection" and "The Medusa," testing an uneasy baritone over portions of "The Flood," and delicately lending subdued melodies to "The Fallout," which is only less shocking than the song's accompanying piano and techno-industrial knick-knacks. Back on more familiar ground, the muscular yet fleet-fingered power-riffing of "The Prosecution" sounds like a tribute to Dimebag Darrell (for whose band, Damageplan, the Haunted were opening on that ill-fated final tour), but the song is still only remotely linked to the one-dimensional thrashings of yore. In summary, despite the occasional growing pains inherent in any bold effort to expand one's sound, The Dead Eye successfully extends the Haunted's tradition of quality music, if not their strictly neo-thrash tradition; in the end it's a good trade.

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