01. No Compromise 02. 99 03. Abysmal 04. Sabotage 05. All Against All 06. Sweet Relief 07. Burnt To A Shell 08. Who Will Decide 09. Nothing Right 10. Liquid Burns 11. Fire Alive 12. Smut King 13. My Shadow2004 Century Media Records
Someone wake me up from this nightmare. Never in my days could I have imagined The Haunted, a Swedish band with founding members of the melodic thrash legends At The Gates, completely transform into a second-rate rock band with modern hardcore influences. The album is cleverly called rEVOLVEr, but for reasons soon to be laid out, I would re-name the album dEVOLVEr for the sake of affirming my stance vis-à-vis this sad album. On one hand it pains me to condemn an album composed by such talented and influential Swedish musicians who have such a wildly influential back catolog of music ,but on the other, my inkling of guilt is washed away by the realization of this album’s seemingly endless sequence of weaknesses, most significantly in the songwriting department. Far better and more powerful bands scene-wise than The Haunted have in the past been critically panned for releasing albums of compost; among the most recent of them Forbidden’s Green, Megadeth’s Risk, Metallica’s St. Anger, Iron Maiden’s Blaze-era albums, Helmet’s brand new offering Size Matters, Danzig’s last three parody albums, Machine Head’s Supercharger, and the list goes on. The good news is that half of those bands have since gained back their original pre-error fanbase, while the others arguably still have the capacity to do so, which puts The Haunted in the latter category. The question is: Will they ever write straight thrash again Because once Metallica stopped, they never looked back. True they were out to conquer the world, and accomplished this feat with hard work and a lot of elbow grease, so then what exactly is The Haunted attempting to do with rEVOLVEr I will answer that question. The Haunted had expanded their sound to include melodic sung intros ("Burnt To A Shell", "My Shadow") and manic nu-metal vocals ("Nothing Right"), additions to their sound that, as much as I like classic rock music, do not fit into their sound very well. An area that The Haunted have always been famous for perfecting, the album intro riff... "No Compromise" in this case astonishingly uses the same riff as "Dark Intentions," the opener from 2000’s classic Made Me Do It. Whether this is to create some effect of album continuity or they were merely out of ideas (a realistic assertion), I challenge the band to enlighten me. Regarding the strength of the songs on the rest of the album, many songs suffer from the strong verse/weak chorus syndrome that to a degree began on 2002’s decent One Kill Wonder, songs such as "Liquid Burns" and "Sweet Relief." Two tracks, "Burnt To A Shell" and the failed epic album closer "My Shadow," dominated by Peter Dolving’s certainly accomplished but unfitting sung vocals, are completely out of place on the album. Oddly enough and perhaps a sign of where The Haunted’s hearts reside musically as writers in 2004, the best songs on this album are also the slowest ones, namely "99" and "All Against All." When we’re talking about The Haunted and their supposed big comeback album, with original and far superior (to Marco Aro) vocalist Peter Dolving, if the best songs on your album are also the slowest, then The Haunted have definitely lost track of what gave the band their worldwide following, and also what allowed Dolving to showcase his homicidal vocals so well on their debut, an opportunity he is not given on this album considering the more laid-back approach the band takes on rEVOLVEr. Even with Sick Of It All frontman Lou Koller lending his guest vocals to "Who Will Decide," the brutality The Haunted of old became famous for is gone, and they are attempting to appeal to newer, bigger crowds with this album; namely the modern American hardcore and metalcore scenes, as is evident with the prevalence of sing-a-longs and breakdowns on the album. Bottom Line: rEVOLVEr is a turning point for The Haunted as they incorporate quiet intros, melodic vocal passages, and a drawn-out rock song, elements that have never been prominent in their tried and tested formula for thrash metal. I’d be curious to see what direction they take on the next album, hopefully it’s a more decided one, because this is a far too varied album to be praised for its qualities, which are spread thin and emerge only occasionally on certain songs out of nowhere. This kind of inconsistency is previously unknown to fans of The Haunted as it is to me, and for that reason I can’t fully support this album. However I’m certain it will have wide appeal across the increasingly popular hard music scene, as I’m equally certain they will slay audiences live with renditions of their many classic songs.