The Haunted

Unseen

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So what happened to the Haunted? Certainly, they've evolved from album to album after losing founding vocalist Peter Dolving, only to get him back eventually. Brothers Anders (guitars) and Jonas Björler (bass) had been honing a melodic death metal sound since they started this band shortly after leaving At the Gates, underscored mightily by guitarist Patrik Jensen and drummer Per Möller Jensen. The reunion album rEVOLVEr showcased the band cutting its way deeper into its corner of the melodic death metal universe with excellent results. With its slower tempos and more conceptual songwriting, 2006's Dead Eye was a flawed experiment that nonetheless contained merit. Released in 2009, Versus restored the melody, but was also more disturbing. It was evolution in the wrong direction, taking on stoner rock and American-styled nu metal as planks in its sound. Alas, the latter is what prevails on Unseen: the band has jumped whole hog into trying to crash American metal's gates with a set of 12 cliché-ridden tracks that echo everyone from Korn to Disturbed to Lamb of God and even to Black Label Society and Nickelback. While the guitars and drums do their sterile riffing (which includes downtuned guitars) in the name of finding hooks to achieve maximum catchy drama, the drums try to create actual grooves for them to lay into. All of that said, it's Dolving's vocals that annoy most of all; his attempt to be "sensitive" is simply cloying, pandering, and cynical. Check the prog metal disaster that is "The Skull," with its preening, slow crooning even as the track builds. It's like Danzig channeling Queensrÿche. The title track features him nearly rapping a semi-spoken word delivery on the verse before his catchy sung chorus restores some semblance of normalcy. "Them" can't make up its mind what it is. Is it prog? Nu metal? Garagey anthemic metal? Or simply musical theater? Unseen is the album that happens when a band figures its audience will follow it no matter what, and tries to conquer a new market rather than dig ever deeper to see what's still there to discover. Awful.

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