The Haunted_Exit WoundsI’m a crabby old thrash metal fanatic. No bones about it. I’ve never really been into the new wave of thrash metal like As I Lay Dying and Suicide Silence, or the retro thrash metal bands like Municipal Waste and Bonded By Blood, who prance about in their tight jeans and high top sneakers, probably because I was there in the trenches during the first wave (though I never got into the skinny jeans). When Sweden’s The Haunted first rose from the ashes of At The Gates with their self-tiled debut in ’98, I wasn’t all that big of a fan. Compared to the originators of the genre and the legacy of At The Gates, The Haunted, frankly, was a letdown. Six albums on down the road, The Haunted gradually stretched into more experimental territories, often much to the chagrin of their hardcore fans. I kept an ear out, but still nothing grabbed me. Until now.

Knowing I am a thrash fanatic, Captain Steel Druhm assigned Exit Wounds to me. I admit, I went in with tainted ears, and at first listen wasn’t impressed. Upon repeat listens, however, that changed drastically. This is a perfectly arranged album with enough variety to keep things from ever getting stagnant. The songs are laid out with the expertise of seasoned songwriters and musicians that vary song styles, parts, tempos giving Exit Wounds the pacing not of a frantic, one-dimensional thrash album, but more like an epic film directed by a master like Martin Scorcese or Stanley Kubrick.

A brief but raging intro leads into the tornado that is “Cutting Teeth,” which launches out of the gate at full steam and clearly establishes that Exit Wounds is modern thrash with nothing retro or “nu” about it. They can pen a song as good as their predecessors (not surprising considering the pedigree of some of the members) with all the chops of musicians that have been playing since the old days. The Haunted know to play a part so sweet it catches your breath, and not repeat it, forcing you to keep waiting to hear it again and listening so closely that the more subtle aspects of the songwriting shine through. On “All I Have” they slow things down considerably and showcase the melodic sensibilities that even the faster tracks on Exit Wounds possess. The lyrics cleverly reference the timeless Police song, “Every Breath You Take,” with the line, “with every breath I’m taking, and every move I make, leaves me anxious and waiting,” reminding the listener that a great song is a great song regardless of the genre.

The Haunted_2014

The performance of every musician is exemplary. The bass is like a buzzsaw and always audible alongside the guitars. The sound on the whole is bombastic, full and warm rather than sterile as so many recordings are these days. The guitar solos shred when they need to, but never at the expense of tastefulness and they even provide moments of beauty. Give the solo section in “Eye of the Storm” a close listen to hear exactly what I mean.

What I expected to be the hang up with Exit Wounds was the vocals. In the past, even when The Haunted delivered a punch to my face with their music, I found them to be one dimensional. I’ve always been a fan of vocalists like Mark Oseguda (Death Angel) or the lunatic timbre of Sean Killian (Vio-lence) over an all-out screamer. The recently re-instated Marco Aro more than makes up for any lack of range with absolute conviction and fury, and as Forrest Gump once said, “he liked to say the ‘F word’ a lot!” Every time he does, instead of it coming off as gratuitous, you feel the volcanic anger and spite he musters in his delivery. Yes, friends, he has made me a believer. “Trend Killer” lightens things up lyrically, no less angry, but as the title indicates focusing on trends in music and those that ride them out. While The Haunted themselves have veered into some questionable territory, in the shadow of the monster that is Exit Wounds, their conviction seems to be unwavering these days and the message is all the more poignant.

Exit Wounds is a raging modern thrash metal masterwork that converted a thrash metal purist like me and should make fans of all those bands with four or more words in the name crap their pants. If you were a fan of The Haunted and feel they lost their way, you will find this to be a fine return to form. If you miss At The Gates, well they are coming back with a new album at the end of the year. Should it fail to live up to their legacy, Exit Wounds satiates many of the same cravings.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6   |  Format Reviewed: 192 kbps MP3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: the-haunted.com/site  |  facebook.com/hauntedofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2014.08.25  |  NA: 09.02.2014

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  • Wizeguy

    Thanks for the review, my interest is piqued and I will definitely give this a listen. I adored “One Kill Wonder” back in the day but everything afterwards seemed to be locked in a perpetual downward spiral. Maybe i, too, can be a believer again.

  • mindglow

    I was not impressed by this on the first listen but it sure did grow on me. I think this might be their best release since Revolver.

    • Paul Revell

      Totally agree. I thought it was so so after one listen but now I can’t stop listening to it!

  • replica

    The “walking endlessly at the camera” video made me wonder if he was going to tell me he just wants a Pepsi.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Nice review. I WANT to like this album since the last few were such a letdown. Good to know that I won’t have to force it and I might actually enjoy it!

  • Zari

    Suicide silence is thrash metal? It must be too early for me. I can’t tell if that was an inside joke pertaining to an older review, or if you just lost your right to review.

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      He’s old and crabby and avoids those newfangled bands. Cut him some slack, you ageist!

      • Zari

        I’M SORRY FOR BEING YOUNG[er] BLAME IT ON THE GOVERNMENT!

        • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

          Duly noted. Now grow up, son!

          • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

            I appreciate you sticking up for me, but man, I am glad they were so on me with this. When I ran my print zine back in 88 and then the web version for years in 98 there wasn’t this kind of community or interaction. It was a different place, but that is one of the things I love about AMG. Had I not stepped away for so long I would surely be more on top of the subgenres of newer bands and would have been on me just the same about something like this. It is that kind of fanaticism about music that kept metal and the underground going for so long despite the trends and ups and downs, so stay on me and keep me in line and keep the mania alive!

  • AndySynn

    I’d take issue with calling it a “masterwork”… that seems like pure hyperbole to me. It’s solid, sometimes very good, sometimes rather unremarkable.

    Could have done with being a few songs shorter. And there’s a few songs which feel as if they were tailor-made for Dolving, which makes Aro’s shortcomings a bit more apparent (just as when you could tell when a song would have been a better fit for Aro, and Dolving didn’t quite gel with it).

    In summation… The Haunted… good band… but perfection for people who think SotS and Reign In Blood are the only two albums you need to listen to.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

      Note, a “modern thrash metal masterwork.” I’ve not been much of a fan of current thrash metal, having cut my teeth on the old school. This, though, is one of, if not the, best modern thrash metal album I’ve come across and I’d love some recommendations as to other albums of this ilk that you guys hold high.

      • AndySynn

        Even calling it a “modern thrash metal masterwork” doesn’t really clear it up… as this is a solid, but relatively undemanding album all in all. Which doesn’t exactly reflect very well on the state of “modern thrash metal” really!

        But, off the top of my head, “Witchkrieg” by Witchery, “Forever Abomination” by Skeletonwitch, “Inroads” by The Wretched End, and “Your God Will Bleed” by Hellish Outcast (and their new album is fan-fucking-amazing btw).

        Not sure if everyone would consider them “thrash”, but they definitely feel like modern incarnations and progressions of the sound.

        Oh, and you know what… this might invalidate any opinions I have… but “Murderlust” by Hatesphere definitely finds Hatsphere being a better The Haunted than The Haunted!

        • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

          Witchery are still around?? This goes to show how far out of the game I got on my hiatus from reviewing and being entrenched in the underground. I never stopped loving or listening to the music, but family and business got so busy I had to give up writing reviews and running my old webzine back in the mid 2000’s. Witchery, back then, were so meh. I need to re-acquaint myself with so much in the scene and these suggestions are a great start. Thank you!

          • AndySynn

            They are indeed, currently being fronted by ex-Dark Funeral frontman Magus Caligula… which is odd, but cool to see live.

            Witchkrieg they had Legion (ex-Marduk) on vocals and it absolutely RIPS.

            One day I’m going to sing for Witchery. If the revolving door of frontmen continues anyway!

          • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

            I am checking out Witchkrieg now. Restless and Dead was my first introduction to them (which makes sense, considering it is the debut) but the album didn’t do it for me. Love Legion’s vocals so I am expecting a lot from Witchkrieg.

          • Luke_22

            As far as modern thrash is concerned, I highly rate and strongly recommend Revocation and Vektor. They have influences outside of thrash, but are both excellent. And Nekromantheon are good too. As for The Haunted, I haven’t really enjoyed their output for a number of years. However, Exit Wounds is a return to form of sorts but is packed with too much filler for me to rate it anything more than solid..

          • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

            As I touched on I the review, surprisingly I didn’t feel there was any filler, I think in part because of how the album is laid out. Listening to it I felt like it was constructed, as a whole, much like a good song with sometimes subtle and sometimes drastic variations in tempo and feel and intensity from track to track which kept it from getting overlong to my ears.

          • AndySynn

            Oh yeah, I totally forgot about Reovcation. Fantastic band.

            And I still think of Darkane as “cyber-thrash” more than anything else. So them too.

            Exit Wounds IS way too wrong and full of filler though. I’m with Luke on that.

          • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

            I saw Revocation open for Death Angel months back. What a show that was, though the whole room smelled like balls, pot and flatulence.

  • sui

    Didn’t expect this high praise of them here…guess need to give it some serious listen. The intro riff of cutting teeth has a lamb of god vibe…which is interesting.

  • Mike Eckman

    I must say, I am impressed. I became aware of the Haunted around when Dead Eye came out and back then, I just shoehorned them as nothing more than just another metalcore band. This whole album reminds me of a $10 steak. If you pay $30 for a steak, it better be damn good, but when you get a steak for only $10, if its anything above your expectations, you are pleasantly surprised. I dont know that this album would make my Top 10 of 2014 list, unless it was a Top 10 Unexpected Surprises of 2014 list.

    • Jose Barajas

      I agree. $10 bucks I think should be the standard for all albums that are cd only and aren’t like special editions or come with dvds. I know bands want to make money, but in my opinion of bands are really trying it’s either through vinyl, merch, digital, and tours, not really through cds. Unless that is their only means of releasing the material, but nowadays bands are doing everything. But I’ve been a Haunted fan since Revolver. I thought they had some pretty catch tunes. Dead Eye also mixed it up a bit melodically. I didn’t really listen to the last couple cds after Dead Eye but for 10 bucks, shit, there isn’t a better time to get back into them.

      • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

        Would you believe Manowar is charging $23.22 for that dopey remaster of Kings of Metal on iTunes? Of course you would. It’s true.

        • Jose Barajas

          I can believe it. And the unfortunate thing is people do pay for that shit. I do like most every genre of metal and I still listen to some power metal bands but more so ones that border on heavy metal like Anthenora or 3 inches of Blood. Manowar and bands like that don’t do anything for me.

  • Zadion

    4.5 for an album from The Haunted? Am I on the right website?

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

      I am as surprised as you are, and I wrote it!

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Touché!

  • AnimalShenanigans

    I was never worried about the quality of this album, but a 4.5 from here just makes me more excited for it. Excellent review. Having Jensen pretty much in the driver’s seat is the best thing that could happen to The Haunted, as their best songs were always written anyway IMO.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    hmmm cant get into this, some great passages but I found it hard to get through the whole album, admittedly I’ve never been a fan of this band.

    So have you guys got a YOB review coming up? I’m really interested to see if they come back with this one.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

      YOB is up!

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    Wow, 4.5/5. That’s quite a lot.

    I personally am not one of the ones who liked The Haunted at first and feels like they’ve lost their way; I absolutely digged every release with Peter Dolving.

    However, Exit Wounds fucking slays. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it too much yet, but I feel like this is going to be one of my favorites from this year.

    And btw, excellent review! :)

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

      Thank you! Glad you dig the album and review!

  • Spawny

    Al Kikuras,
    your review for the album “Exit Wounds” is very nice especially for the band and the album as well, but still too
    much unnecessary self-expressions. I’ve been listening to the Haunted since their
    Album “The Haunted made me do it” that came out in 2000 with the singer Marco Aro,
    of the existing album “Exit Wounds”. “The Haunted made me do it” is one of the
    most outstanding albums in the thrash metal scene next to Slayer’s “Reign Blood”.
    There is no if and but about it. If you have never known that, you’ve
    not been living Thrash Metal. Sorry!

    In your
    review, I do not like your first part of your introduction. Let me tell you “why”.
    Artists in general have the nature of not copying themselves over the years. No
    matter what art work comes as an output, you cannot compare it to the past. And
    that is the key word! “Compare”. Styles might be the same, but still change in
    its nuances. No matter if a band changed their members for whatever reason, no
    matter if a painter changed its colors for whatever reason, no matter a writer
    changed his pencil. People change, times change, emotions change, life situations
    change etc., and all those effects change the output of an artist, even he
    might want to stay as close to his recent release, as he can. But he can’t accept
    copying himself. That’s why I don’t like all those reviews comparing a band to
    past times and reflecting how good or bad the new album is compared to the old
    outputs! Bands change. Look at Opeth, Slayer, Testament, Exodus, Anthrax,
    Heathen. They all have changed as well as their own musician capability, Equipment,
    Management, Mixer, Marketing, Labels, Studios have. Comparing to old style,
    past things, past artwork is only accepted if a growth or decline of an artist
    is talked about. But each individual art work is being published at different
    times, different circumstances, and should be reviewed as an own new creative
    output to the world. You can always talk about past, but DO NOT compare with
    the future. The new album from The Haunted “Exist Wounds”, is a very fine line
    between Thrash Metal (Guitar-Bass-Drumming concept) , New Metal (because of
    Marco’s Hardcore Voicing) and solid Heavy Metal (Guitar Solos) found.

    You will
    find a lot of Thrash Metal reminder riffs such as Slayer’s “Angel of Death”- Riffs
    in “My Enemy”. On my opinion the drumming is very excellent on this album
    already starting in the introduction of this album. Al Kikuras is right, the more you listen to
    this album the more you get addicted to it. My personal experience: Don’t listen
    to it with “Beats”, nice car Stereo will be a great killer sound for this
    album. I can’t wait to see the guy live on stage!

    Greetings
    to allreaders: Spawny

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

      I appreciate all you wrote. We accept and take all criticism and praise to heart and try to improve based on both. Comparing an album to past works is a good way to give listeners a reference point that they can understand. Especially a band like The Haunted, with a varied discography that alienated some fans. We try to review each album based on its own merits rather than how it holds up to past works, but sometimes making those comparisons helps to explain the direction a band took on a release. I am glad you like the album, I am still enjoying it as well and intend on going back and listening to all of their releases again.

  • Here’s Johnny

    Good album and a return to the right direction for the Haunted. 4.5 is way to a high a score though, too much filler and nothing really truly exciting. They are finding their feet again.

    I bet they will still rule live though.

    • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

      You are a chronic score complainer, but I love you anyway.

      • Here’s Johnny

        True but 4.5 is too high.

        A 4.5 album should blow you way, this is a good album but it doesn’t excite much. Scores are not all important but a lot of people probably do look at it first, just saying maybe it should be thought about a bit more.

        Love you more.

        • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

          I went with the 4.5 because it did blow me away much to my surprise. It is possible that being surprised is part of what made me score it higher than you think it deserves just like a unexpectedly free burger may taste a little better in your mind than one you paid for. As I mentioned in another post, I love that the readers on AMG are so supportive with both praise and criticism. We need that, the latter especially, to improve. I did think about it a lot, and even chatted with Druhm briefly because I was wavering but will, as suggested, think about scores even more moving forward. While folks look to critics for their opinions and recommendations, reviews are subjective, as much as we try to be objective to an extent. So, what blows one of us away may not blow a reader away so the general rule at AMG is when in doubt, round down. Perhaps I should have, but man, I am loving this album still. All that said, I like knowing we have a chronic score complainer and look forward to being challenged again. I am still flabbergasted that NME gave that heap of dung ‘Lulu’ a 7/10 and Rolling Stone gave it at 3/5 so I do get where you are coming from.

  • JL

    I agree there is no way this is a masterwork. It’s 14 songs, which is way too much for a record of this type. Too much filler. It doesn’t come close to an album like Surgical Steel, by way of comparison.

  • Jose Barajas

    Woooooooooooooooow a 4.5 on this site for this band. I am going to pick up this cd no matter to give it a try, I’ve been a Haunted Fan for a while. They never really disappointed me and their cds were solid listens for a few months at least until another band dropped a new cd. But I was expecting like a 3 or 3.5. I’m surprised. Now I guess I’ll have to buy it

  • http://www.deemindex.com Lars van Bergen

    The last paragraph says it all, the perfect summary!

    About the album: I’ve been almost listening non-stop to this album on Spotify and I LOVE it! A return to form. And I’m glad you liked Exit Wounds too ;)
    Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of Dolvings vocals. Sure, he has a versatile. But I like the more “brutal” approach of Aro.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Al Kikuras

      Thanks so much!! That means a lot! I dig this album quite a bit.

  • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

    grrrr.. terrific album! perfect to punch in the face all the stupid people in my office!! -crack!-

  • Tom

    4.5? That’s An A+ with honours, distinctions and sticking it on the fridge until it turns yellow. I thought it had penetratingly high highs but that didn’t waylay the despairingly low lows. My conclusion was that if 3/5ths of the Haunted (ex- and current) are in the At The Gates reunion, what is the point of The Haunted? On EW, I didn’t feel like The Haunted were labouring under the impression The Haunted was the be-all and end-all of their musical outpourings.