The Haunted
Versus

By now, The Haunted should need no introduction. Featuring 2/5’s (at one time 3/5’s) of Swedish legends At the Gates, they’ve had their fair share of the metal spotlight over the past decade. Their vocalist is subject of much heated debate on blabbermouth over his personal blogs, and over the past couple years, their fan base has seen somewhat of a split as they’ve taken on a gradual stylistic shift that has left many scratching their heads. Above any of this though, I count them among my absolute favorite bands and have actually enjoyed their path of evolution in sound.

Their 6th studio effort, Versus, sees a halt of that evolution. Where many felt that 2004’s rEVOLVEr and 2006’s The Dead Eye were a little too soft or maybe even watered down, I saw them as growth and expansion, even if they couldn’t really be called a bona fide death/thrash band anymore. Both were loaded with hooks and retained a sound that was undoubtedly The Haunted, just a little less furious than before. Versus on the other hand sees the band backtracking somewhat to a much more thrash aligned sound that recalls their first couple albums. Now before some of you get too excited, this isn’t a complete return to that sound of old. There are elements from virtually every past album represented here.

Album opener “Moronic Colossus” immediately shows a good deal of the past in its quick footed delivery and heavy handed approach. “Little Cage” wouldn’t have been out of place on the self-titled debut with it’s thrashed out verses and super catchy chorus that recalls “Invein” somewhat. “Crusher”, keeping true to its name crushes with speed and power, and also would be right at home on either of the first two albums.

“Pieces”, “Trenches”, “Ceremony”, “Iron Mask” and “Faultline” are all loaded with the mid paced melodic groove of rEVOLVEr and The Dead Eye, and only somewhat hint at the speed and fury of the early albums, though that latter song picks up the pace in the second half. Both “Skuld” and “Rivers Run” are much slower numbers that could slip right into The Dead Eye‘s track list, containing some of that almost creepy sounding whispered/spoken word bit that Peter Dolving does from time to time. Album closer “Imperial Death March” is the only true departure here, as it does in fact have a march like quality to it, and doesn’t really sound like anything they’ve done, but still certainly sounds like The Haunted.

I must say I rather enjoy Versus, but it’s not what I expected. Honestly I wanted another controversial head scratcher and another step in their progression, but instead I’ve gotten an album that simply treads the waters of old. Either way, if you’ve enjoyed all of their works, I don’t see why you wouldn’t like Versus as well. Though if you were hoping for a complete return to the sound of old, your time would be better spent checking out Casketgarden and The Scourger, as both of those bands borrow heavily from The Haunted’s early works, and pull it off convincingly. For me, when I need a dose of The Haunted, I’ll keep reaching for The Dead Eye, rEVOLVEr and of course, the self-titled.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
October 14th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Hank the Tank

    This album blows chunks. This band now really blows chunks. I’m usually a completest, but with this and the new Cryptopsy, two bands just fell by the wayside. I won’t look back…


  2. Commented by: ceno

    rEVOLVEr is the album that turned me to The Haunted. The new one is pretty enjoyable too unless you look at it against the background of the band’s overall legacy. Fair and very well-written review, btw. I would also put The Dark Invitation To Armaggeddon by Scourger higher than Versus


  3. Commented by: Staylow

    Oh yeah. Not only The Scouger, but Incompleteness in Absence by Casketgarden. Both of those albums are very Haunted-esque and better than Versus.


  4. Commented by: Kyle

    Personally I thought it was nice of them to stop sucking as they had really shit the bed since Made Me do It.


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