Review – The Haunted: Unseen

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Review – The Haunted: Unseen
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The Haunted: Unseen
Alternative Rock, Hard Rock
Century Media Records
March 22nd, 2011
Release length: 43:23
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Ever since my first impressions feature on the title track of the seventh full-length The Haunted album, Unseen, I had been receiving plenty of messages from readers asking how I could stand listening to “that crap”. Unseen is quickly becoming one of the most dismal and unwanted albums ever in the Metal scene, especially since the resounding success of rEVOLVEr that put the band on the map. It seems that since The Dead Eye, the band has been going downhill, and even with the last album Versus, that slope got a little slicker when the band found a Static-X impression in some of their songs. At this time, Century Media Records does not support this site, but I have been asked many times over for my opinion on this album. Since a full audio stream of this release was made available legally on-line, I decided to spend some time with it and get a review out before its release date. With the Metal world divided between this being the most heinous act of blasphemy, as well as some citing it as a catchy modern rock release, it’s clear that a definitive answer needs to exist, if not for the readers of this site, then simply for myself. Where does this album actually stand?

Unseen is definitely not like the band’s earlier material. It’s clear the group is continuing to expand their sound, having been shifting away from the At the Gates influence that these former members brought with them when they formed this act. Since The Dead Eye, the band has been catering more to what’s been hot in the scene, and slowly making a play towards a Mallcore or Alternative sound. After Versus, Unseen really doesn’t come as a shock. The music here is your general Hard Rock and Alternative Rock sounds mixed with the slight edge that was present with Versus, giving off more of a KoRn or Tool atmosphere, which is evident before you even put the album in with the lead single “Unseen” that has been circulating the net, as well as right from the start, had you not heard that song previously, with the edgier Alternative track “Never Better”. At first, had you never heard the lead single “Unseen”, it really would become a huge shock and quickly turn the listener off, but if you look at it through the eyes of a Hard Rock or even Mallcore effort, “Never Better” isn’t really that bad a song, and is quite catchy. While the two bands mentioned above do exist strongly on this track, the music is solid, and the vocals are actually really good. The only real problem is that all the energy the band typically brings into their releases happens to be void from this track, as well as others on the album, and that’s perhaps the most discouraging thing.

But, the album isn’t necessarily geared towards the KoRn or Tool sound, as others do exist, and it really causes some diversity in the music, but then takes on the most irritating factor in some of the Alternative Metal/Mallcore releases today, which is a very inconsistent flow with the release. “No Ghost”, for example, seems to have a more Alternative Rock vibe to it, and less of a Groove feel to it, though clearly taking some Pantera influence to the music, with a bridge that appears past the half way point that feels more like an Adult Contemporary approach similar to that of Ours, being an atmospheric musical approach with vocals that are purposely off-key to add an element of a dramatic performance to the mix. It’s not a bad song, but it’s as generic as could be, and really won’t necessarily do anything but make the listener long to put in a Pantera album instead before switching gears to yet another generic as all hell heavier Alternative Rock track that, well, sounds like everything else on the radio today. Of course, this is “Catch 22”.

While many may look at Unseen and find the whole album to be absolute garbage, there are many tracks on here that, from a Hard Rock or Alternative standpoint, are actually solid, enjoyable, catchy songs that can make your head bang on a different level all together. The perfect example is “Disappear”. The song is perhaps the most upbeat track on the entire recording, and could very well be the most poppy track next to the title song, but it has a good amount of energy in the vocals, and the song is simply catchy as all hell, sounding like a lighter, more poppy version of what you would expect off of rEVOLVEr. On top of that, you also have “Motionless” which is basically a The Haunted album, again taking influence from rEVOLVEr, but just lighter and void of screaming, though some gang chants exist, the song has a heavier bridge later on,m and is just really catchy. “Unseen” also storms in with its mellow, yet infectiously addicting song that does it’s job well at being a more traditional Alternative Rock song that is simply well done. These tracks are what really drive the album and actually make it quite enjoyable. “Them” is also a great song, again taking from rEVOLVEr, and actually isn’t all that light, being the heaviest track on the album. The song captures what has made The Haunted so good in the earlier years, but presents a more Hard Rock vibe to some of the chords, and really makes the chorus stand out and be as catchy as “Unseen” and “Disappear”. Finally there’s also “All Ends Well”, which is nothing like The Haunted at all, but more like an Alice Cooper cover done well, having a very dark atmosphere to it while still retaining that easier Rock vibe that made up some of the edgier songs that didn’t tread into traditional The Haunted grounds.

While the first two songs on here are good for what they are, they don’t really sound anything like The Haunted, and that becomes one of the issues with the release, and one of the main concerns in the Metal world. Had “Unseen” sounded more like a song by The Haunted, and not a cross of various Alternative Rock bands, the problems towards this album wouldn’t be as bad as they are. However, there’s no denying this release does feature pure, absolute garbage. “The Skull” starts off horrible with its rather lame intro with simple lyrics sung at an obnoxious higher nasal pitch, but the song then takes on a much heavier traditional The Haunted sound with some screaming incorporated into it with a heavy, very bass driven song that molds the aggression of The Haunted with a general Hard Rock attitude behind it. This sounds fantastic, but that intro the chorus too, and it clashes horribly together, making the song go from a gem on the album, to a very forgettable track that doesn’t feel like it actually ended, through it has an odd distant whistle sound with some distant gunfire to close it out with. On top fo that, you also have “Catch 22”, which is just a generic song that really has nothing going for it at all and will quickly be forgotten. “Ocean Park” is a short spoken word section that is simply irritating with a Jane’s Addiction kind of vibe to it, clearly meant to be nothing but an intro, but it fails miserably to seven set up the song it comes before, which is the heavier “The City”, which is a song that is more like the later heavier The Haunted, and just while it seems to be a little cluttered musically, as if trying to take a Progressive direction with the music, it’s an alright song, but probably won’t hold the listener’s interest for more than a few spins.

Unseen truly is a mixed bag. It’s sort of like The Haunted had been asking if going lighter would be ok with the past two albums, then basically just going all out despite the reaction the fans had been giving. Unseen is far from a bad album, but while it’s understandable why fans would go out and call this release treason in an understandable manner, in a way it’s not. Many of the songs here still manage to sound like The Haunted and do a damn good job at just making that sound more appealing to audiences not necessarily into the heavier sound of their classics like “99” and “D.O.A.”. Whether this was to cash in on the lighter sound is unclear, but either way, there’s plenty of good Hard Rock tracks on here, and a decent amount of songs that have a Metal feel to it that stays within the staple sound of The Haunted. Yes, some tracks are garbage and come off as filler, but in the end the material here is solid and well performed with a driving sound that has heavy bass to it that will get your head to bang along once in a while. Unseen isn’t an album that should be passed over because of the single. Though it’s not a heavy release, and leaves the listener heart-broken that it’s not a traditional The Haunted album, something the fans (such as myself) was really looking forward to, Unseen manages to be an album that is an acquired taste, but still worth checking out if you can open your mind and look at it for what it is: Mostly solid Alternative and Hard Rock music.


01. Never Better – 3:34
02. No Ghost – 3:34
03. Catch 22 – 3:44
04. Disappear – 3:50
05. Motionless – 4:25
06. Unseen – 3:02
07. The Skull – 4:04
08. Ocean Park – 0:49
09. The City – 3:08
10. Them – 4:06
11. All Ends Well – 4:16
12. Done – 3:49
Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

The Haunted
The Haunted

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