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Class 6(66)

The Haunted: The haunted

09/03/12  ||  revenant

Introduction

Ever read up on the legend of the phoenix? According to the mythology, when the phoenix dies it bursts into flame, and from those flames rises a new, reborn phoenix than can fly as high and as long as the previous phoenix could. At the Gates was a phoenix. It flew high and proud, it’s flames spectacular before all fell to ash. From those ashes rose The Haunted, a rebirth that flew as high and spectacularly as At the Gates. But the sound was different. Where At the Gates redefined melodic death metal, The Haunted redefined thrash. Pre-dating the thrash revival, The Haunted’s debut burst onto the scene with vigour, aggression and a unique style that would spawn copycat bands all over Europe.

Songwriting

Top fucken notch. And how could it not be? Written by the brains behind At the Gates and riff master of Witchery this album always had “win” written all over it. And I’m not just talking about the killer riff after killer riff that makes such a pleasure to listen to, but the sheer structure of the songs is fantastic. A lot of the songs really only hit the 2-3 minute mark, but feel a hell of a lot longer. Why? Because so much is chocked into each song. We’re talking 3-4 interlocking riffs that weave around each other in each song. It’s probably what staffer Smalley would refer to as “riff heavy”. That’s a good thing by the way Smalls. Another plus on this front is the breaks, which aren’t the predictable guitar solo breaks this genre is filled with. Yep, top fucken notch is right. 9.5

Production

Yes, yes, fucken yes. This is how it’s done. This is how a thrash record should fucken sound. The guitars, which are the main force on this record, sound brilliant. They are sharp. They have bite. They sound like razor wire being dragged across your bare flesh. The sound and tone here is spot on for the myriad of melodic and thrashy riffs performed. The drums also have bite, pounding like hammer blows to your skull. The bass… a little hard to hear, but that’s not uncommon and doesn’t detract from the great sound this record has. To all those modern thrash bands who follow the same bland modern production sound – listen to this and learn. 9

Guitars

Considering how old the genre is, for The Haunted to come out first album and have a unique sound just shows they are something special. That unique sound stems from the guitars. There is something special about the mix of melody into thrash with the guitar work that is uniquely theirs. That alone deserves a fucken 10 in my book. Then consider the amount of killer riffs and ace solos you get… this can’t be scored on any normal scale. Top notch playing, unique sound, loads of killer riffs… no normal scorecard can cover this. Fuck it, let’s give it the Spinal Tap score: this one goes to 11

Vocals

This album still rates as my favourite Peter Dolving performance. The style he adopts here is straight up hardcore: raw screaming and hate filled rants, and he does it brilliantly. There was a fire lit inside Dolving for this record, and his anger and hate burns through the speakers. His performance is in many ways accentuated by the lyrics, which his approach is extremely well structured around. He shifts his yells around the lyrics, giving each line a life of it’s own. Check out “3 times”, where he despairing cries “So what is the law? When all else fails there’s nothing left given the choice” at which point he shifts to a more threatening tone “stand back or suffer the consequence”. He also employs his low pitch whisper voice to great effect as well. Check out the break in “Bullet Hole” where he whispers “You think you’re safe in your suburban dreamscape. Well, I could change all that…I bide my time…you’re such sweet meat…”. Dolving is nothing short of brilliant on this record. 9.5

Bass

While the guitars may be the hero, the rhythm section can’t be ignored. Yeah, bass is low in the mix, but this is nothing new to thrash. Live with it. All you need to know here is Björer keeps it tight and the rhythm section does it’s job. 8

Drums

Erlandsson keeps it simple, and to great effect. His constant backbone of pounding rhythms set the perfect background for the forefront attack of guitars and Dolving. Think of the band as Napoleon’s army. The guitars and vocals are the primary attacking weapons, while the rhythm section holds the flanks. The whole army would collapse but for strength on the flanks. That’s the drums and bass do, hold the whole thing together. Fancy guitar work can only get so far, and the pounding drums certainly add drive and support to this record. 9

Lyrics

Now these aren’t for the faint of heart. The lyrics are filled with threats of violence, scathing attacks on society and ugly rants, all perfectly delivered by Dolving. These are probably the best lyrics of this type since Pantera released “Vulgar Display of Power”. Yet despite all the profanity, there is something poetic about it all. There are times the lyrics are crude as hell, but the combination of words and Dolving’s delivery enhance each other’s impact beautifully. My favourite line? Try the closing lines from “Shattered”:

I feel my energy rising
No way to keep this fury controlled
My hand shakes with anger,
Your life… Shattered.

Violent. Ugly. Profane. Poetic. Brilliant. There isn’t anything else that needs to be said. 9

Cover art

Sometimes simple is effective, and cover art doesn’t come any simpler than this: a big fucken logo and some flames in the bottom left corner over a black background. The logo, which I discuss a little further below, is what makes this one work. Plus flames are always good. 8

Logo

I fucken love The Haunted’s logo. Ok, so the font isn’t so hot, but the silhouette makes it fucken work. That guy is sinister, and his shadowy presence in the logo just adds a level of malevolence to it. Simple but very effective. 9

Booklet

Lyrics in white over a plain black background with the occasional red-ink picture. Looks OK, but nothing special by any means. 6

Overall and ending rant

I love The Haunted. I’ve loved them from the first moment I heard them. One album was all it took to project them into my favourite couple of bands. And why not? This is a fantastic album. It burns with energy and anger. It’s a ripping fast, hate filled album that oozes class. Thrash was well and truly dead when this album was released, and The Haunted, with this album, kicked it in the balls until it came back to life with furious vengeance and with it, a new style of thrash was born. And that is the sign of a true classic metal album: one that has other bands wanting to play the same thing. And that’s what this album is: a true classic.

9,5

  • Information
  • Released: 1998
  • Label: Earache Records
  • Website: www.the-haunted.com
  • Band
  • Peter Dolving: vocals
  • Anders Björler: guitars
  • Patrik Jensen: guitars
  • Jonas Björler: bass
  • Adrian Erlandsson: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Hate Song
  • 02. Chasm
  • 03. In Vein
  • 04. Undead
  • 05. Choke Hold
  • 06. Three Times
  • 07. Bullet Hole
  • 08. Now You Know
  • 09. Shattered
  • 10. Soul Fracture
  • 11. Blood Rust
  • 12. Forensick