THE HAUNTED – Unseen
Veteran bands earn certain rights exclusively due to proving themselves. Once you’ve created a foothold with your sound and amassed a sizeable throng who’ll take in your touring cycles consistently, many musicians feel the need to challenge themselves while the years move forward. For The Haunted, their first four studio albums hit a thrash/death audience with immediacy – and you could sense that if the group didn’t begin to evolve and adjust the accelerator, they would probably burn out in the long run. Starting with 2006’s "The Dead Eye", the transformation into diverse tempos and more melodic vocal approaches took place – possibly to the detriment of a career and regardless of any ‘sellout’ cries that may be lobbed.
That’s why journalists and fans alike may be pondering the contents of album seven "Unseen" for quite a while.
It’s easy to digest songs like “Disappear” and the title track and hear that The Haunted now take in influences from The Deftones or In Flames with their guitar framework or vocal inflections. Peter Dolving ruptures blood vessels as he alternates between eerie whisper talk, alternative hypnotic choruses and his conventional acidic speed screams on “The Skull”. Or for something completely on the alternative trip, take in “All Ends Well” – containing a simplified drum beat and guitars/ vocals more in line with Alice In Chains or The Smashing Pumpkins, which has me perplexed as it’s not bad, but not necessarily what most people want to hear from The Haunted.
All is not in left field: “Never Better” opens with jackhammer snare action and crunchy riffs and “The City” swings for the fences with a sweeping mid-tempo arrangement certain to incite walls of death or circle pits in all corners of the globe. Know going in though that if you like The Haunted as a Slayer-esque entity, you better revisit the self titled debut or "One Kill Wonder" as "Unseen" is more of their artistic expansion effort, focusing on catchier songwriting and just a feeling of personal freedom.
This might be an album five years down the road that will hit my brainwaves much better. As it stands now, The Haunted aren’t what they used to be, and I think as such "Unseen" may be that record to divide the true lifetime members from the fans who’ll move on permanently to other pastures.