Metal Review – The Haunted: Exit Wounds

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Metal Review – The Haunted: Exit Wounds
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The Haunted: Exit Wounds
Melodic Death Metal, Post-Thrash Metal
Century Media Records
September 2nd, 2014
Release length: 44:17
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Sweden’s The Haunted is one of those rare bands that came out swinging shortly after their formation and left a large mark in the Metal world right away. This post-At The Gates outfit unleashed their self-titled full-length in 1998, gaining far more success with each effort there after. Following Marco Aro’s departure in 2003, the band became a household name with 2004’s rEVOLVEr, the pinnacle of their career. Since then it has been a slow yet steady decline highlighted across 2006’s The Dead Eye and 2008’s Versus. It wasn’t until 2011’s Unseen that the formula completely changed to more of a Modern Rock venture that many fans became split down the middle over. Come 2013, both drummer Adrian Elandsson and Marco himself returned to the fold, joined by new member Ola Englund (former Six Feet Under, Feared) on guitar. What followed was the 2013 EP Exit Wounds, a taste of what would be found on their eighth full-length recording Exit Wounds. But does it live up to the hype, or is this latest entry as uninspiring as the past few?

“317” is your standard hardcore attitude introduction that sets up the album well enough. The sound of a beating heart gives way to a short yet heavy instrumental piece that shifts into “Cutting Teeth,” the album’s lead single and most hostile piece. The guitars have a good amount of complexity at times, though the main verses find shifting patterns instead of sticking to the same chords the entire time to help with the adrenaline soaked atmosphere and shouting that seems a bit over-the-top thanks largely to the additional layering. As you approach the two minute mark you do get a brief cooldown period that, ten seconds past, throws you head first into more crushing music that pounds away at your skull, gaining momentum the closer to the end you reach. This nicely sums up what put The Haunted on the map back in 2004, but from here on out it’s a mixture of sounds that make up the band’s struggle to reach that point, as well as their desire to fix what was never truly broken.

“My Salvation” doesn’t quite have the same level of enthusiasm, but it’s still a rather intense performance that harkens back to the group’s early days. Tight Melodic Death Metal that carry a subtle hint of the style’s Swedish heritage builds a dark, almost oppressive environment complimented with some deeper growling past three minutes in for the sake of one last assertion of dominance. “Kill the Light” is more of an eerie performance that relies on accentuating the rich bass and solid kind of cleaner distortion of the lead and rhythm guitars with just the right amount of buzz. The impact is about the same as “Exit Wounds.” This slower paced mixture of melancholic Deceased-grade atmospheres and signature Pantera style grooves make for an interesting combination that sounded fantastic on the EP, though when placed in the slow decline of energy that follows “Cutting Teeth,” it’s a little below par in comparison, as well as announcement of experimentation that leads to a steady loss of originality.

“Trend Killer” takes the bands Thrash Metal influence into more of a Hardcore Punk direction. The main verses are initially fleshed out with a catchy bassline that builds up the tension to when the rest of the instruments finally kick in to make the already dancing crowd happier. The shouting vocals leave a hint of Pro-Pain in their wake, though you could easily overlap the conclusion to Slipknot‘s “The Heretic Anthem” on the abrasive finale here and find very little differing the two. There’s also the comical higher pitched shouting in the background is the worst possible choice for something so out of the ordinary for The Haunted following their output from 2011. But, even with them included, this is still just a fun as hell track in the same vain as Terror 2000‘s later material. “Time (Will Not Heal)” has more Pantera influence and chugging at work in an upbeat manner that at times nearly mirrors the leads in “Cowboys from Hell,” while “All I Have” is reminiscent of “Drag the Waters” with some haunting hooks to the chorus and “The Ghost in the Machine” breaks that new mold down further by carrying traces of All That Remains.

But, sadly, that’s not all. There’s “My Enemy,” which is nothing more than a minute long slab of Grindcore intensity and speed that contains very little memorable to it, much like what “This War” brings to the table. While a tight, abrasive performance that captures the spirit of Grindcore with hints of the bands established sound, it just comes off like regurgitated riffs and blast beats that by forty seconds in feels like it’s been on way too long and could have ended at the minute mark, if not earlier, without heading into the extensive breakdown. These are easily the two weakest tracks of the effort, and hopefully not a sign that we’ll see more of them on future releases.

While the past three albums from The Haunted haven’t exactly been the most impressive, or even true to form with their last effort, it’s great to hear The Haunted try to recapture their glory days. Up until “Trend Killer” they manage to do it quite well. With that in mind, Exit Wounds immediately comes off like the blistering return everyone hoped to receive. Sadly, once the veneer of this shiny, new, and often heavy outing wears thin, it becomes obvious this isn’t that vintage The Haunted you are looking for thanks to their incorporating more Groove Metal by becoming another act in a sea of names that feel since Lamb of God has grown an empire by ripping off Pantera right down to the Southern haziness they too need to hop on the already overcrowded bandwagon. That or just churn out some bland borderline Grindcore or Hardcore infused material with little to no staying power. The Haunted have treaded far from their original sound over the years, and while Exit Wounds shows they can still pull it off, it also shows a band not quite ready to relive what broke them through in the first place.


01. 317 – 1:32
02. Cutting Teeth – 3:24
03. My Salvation – 4:03
04. Psychonaut – 3:25
05. Eye of the Storm – 3:50
06. Trend Killer – 3:13
07. Time (Will Not Heal) – 3:42
08. All I Have – 3:04
09. Temptation – 3:18
10. My Enemy – 1:01
11. Kill the Light – 4:08
12. This War – 2:28
13. Infiltrator – 3:33
14. Ghost in the Machine – 3:36
Initial Pressing Score: 6/10

The Haunted
The Haunted

Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.