The Haunted - Strength in Numbers 01It’s strangely liberating to write about a high profile record after its official release when, presumably, all those interested in hearing it have done so and made their decisions on its merits or lack thereof. Such is the case with The Haunted’s new record, Strength in Numbers. Those who are longtime fans will already be enjoying their disc or LP, and those on the fence will likely not be swayed in their opinion by the prose of a halfway decent writer on the Internet, but instead by another run-through on Spotify. The upshot here is that I can neatly avoid the question of “should you buy or listen to this?” and try instead to describe various aspects that intrigued me throughout my numerous spins of the Swedish supergroup’s ninth record.

Let’s begin with honesty: I own every single one of The Haunted’s full-lengths, including the notorious Unseen, and enjoy each one of them. Each one has its own unique aspects that make it enjoyable and tends to sound different from the preceding records. Strength in Numbers sounds the most like its predecessor than any consecutive pair in The Haunted’s history, the return to an older mixture of forms (Revolver meets Made Me Do It) of Exit Wounds. Being introduced to The Haunted as “the Swedish Slayer” by a source long forgotten, this has always been my conception of the band. Being forced to engage with Strength in Numbers beyond enjoying it loudly and often, I was forced to engage also with that old preconception and came to the conclusion that The Haunted isn’t the Swedish Slayer but rather the Swedish Lamb of God; that is to say, a band that aims to be the dominant force in modern metal, at once abrasive and accessible.

Like Lamb of God, The Haunted have their immediately identifiable signature moves, of which there are two. The first is a typically Swedish alternate-picking riff revolving around an instantly recognizable sequence of notes, peppering “Bury Your Dead” and “Hate Song” as much as “Cutting Teeth” to this record’s ripping “Tighten the Noose.” The second is a consonant yet energetic and slightly belligerent sense of melody that characterizes songs like “In Vein” and “Hollow Ground” along with Exit Wounds‘ excellent “Infiltrator” and Strength in Numbers’s “Preachers of Death.” The potent combination of these two essential factors along with rhythm guitar extraordinaire Patrik Jensen’s almost absurdly good ear for supremely effective chugging put the modern metal throne within the grasp of The Haunted, as it makes for songs that are memorable, effective, affective, and sometimes anthemic.

The Haunted - Strength in Numbers 02

The success of any The Haunted record depends on how well these aspects are merged together into a seamless whole, and Strength in Numbers, like Exit Wounds before it, plays it fairly safe. It’s hard to imagine any fan of The Haunted not finding glee in “The Fall,” a masterclass in how to use simple song structure to achieve maximum effectiveness. The gut-punch of its chorus merges expertly with its chugging, thrash-based verse, culminating in a half-time bruiser of a riff that acts as a strange yet satisfying climax. Likewise, the Revolver-esque “Means to an End” batters effectively and emphasizes the melody of the guitars in its chorus, as Marco Aro was never much for clean vocals. As a blunt rhythmic instrument here, though, his performance is spot-on in this track.

The safe nature of Strength in Numbers has produced another standby record like Exit Wounds that’s a solid spin but won’t be anyone’s favorite The Haunted record. It’s not that it’s missing any essential elements, but it seems content with sticking to what works without imbuing it with a new punishing vitality as they did on One Kill Wonder or a stunning sense of melody as they did on The Dead Eye. This is more in the vein of Revolver and, as stated repeatedly, Exit Wounds, which isn’t a bad thing because the enjoyment, riffs, and quality are still there, but like those records Strength in Numbers takes the overall spirit of The Haunted and restates it forcefully instead of keeping the essence but focusing on and emphasizing one aspect of their sound. If you’re to only buy one The Haunted record, it definitely won’t be Strength in Numbers. That said, if you’re only going to buy only one “modern metal” record in 2017, The Haunted have made a convincing and riff-filled argument as to why it should be Strength in Numbers.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: thehaunted.com | facebook.com/thehauntedofficial
Releases Worldwide: August 25th, 2017

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  • AndySynn

    Accurate review. But a slightly more generous score than I anticipated!

  • Paul Revell

    Spot on. I’m not enjoying this as much as Exit Wounds which is a disappointment, but at least I know it’s not just me!

  • I agree with your review, but I’d go one step further. This record just isn’t very good, period. Never thought The Haunted would sound so generic and unexciting. 3.5 is way too generous.

    • herrschobel

      interesting…i ignored The Haunted for the past 20 years…or how long they exist … to me this sounds pretty cool and energetic …

  • lennymccall

    On a Patrik Jensen related note the mighty Witchery just announced another new record already called I Am Legion, for Nov 10th!
    I could not be more stoked!

    • legionz

      Witchkrieg and In His Infernal Majesty’s Service are anything but mighty. Perhaps “once mighty” would have been more accurate.

      • Here’s Johnny

        Witchkrieg was awesome and your namesake Legion, made it so.

      • lennymccall

        Literally two of my favorite records so, to each his own I guess.

        • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

          Yeah I agree. I think those 2 albums are rippers!

    • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

      That’s great news!! I hadn’t heard that yet.

  • Wes Allen

    If I were only to buy one modern metal record in 2017, I’d have so much more money.

  • Here’s Johnny

    Should be called ‘…by the numbers’.

    • BURN!

    • dblbass

      (Using my best Count Chocula voice) ….BWAAHAAAHAAAHAA!!!

    • Uns

      Paint by Numbers.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Any Septicflesh review coming???
    Anyone?….class?…

    • So soon one might say it’s looming.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Creepy

  • 12tonehead

    Intriguing and well written review, that delivered what it promised, I listened and still stand on my side of the fence.
    And yet, still no review of Ulsect.

  • The Unicorn

    Amazed this band is still around. Yawn.

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    I absolutely adored Exit Wounds so I’m curious for this record. The preview tracks left me a little cold, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty to like on this record.

    I really liked the review by the way, nice to read a critical review from another fan.

  • dblbass

    After reading the review… it’s hard to tell if you actually like the record or not.

  • dblbass

    I like it. To my brain, it might not be as thrilling as Exit Wounds was because that album was a return to form. And after the last couple with Dolving… it was SOO needed.

  • Metrognome26

    It’s The Haunted being The Haunted. I dig it! To me it feels like their strongest work since Revolver, although they’ve been… “spotty” since that record. I’m enjoying Strength in Numbers a lot, though. It’s a basic The Haunted record, but that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

  • MetalMartin

    I’m a sucker for Ola’s guitar work. I love his You Tube channel; he does a lot of hilarious, silly, stupid and as well serious things. I can’t have enough of his Randall Satan amp tone. I’m spinning this record and it’s a 5 to me. All tastes come with nature. Cheers!

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    I love The Haunted way more than most people and will probably enjoy anything they ever do. Hell, I even found something to enjoy about the trainwreck that was Unseen. This record isn’t the worst thing the band has done, but it also isn’t the best. At this point in their career, I was hoping for something a little more. I’m a little disappointed by this one. That being said, I’ll still listen to it endlessly because I have a problem.

    • ToddRob64

      Pretty much what I came her to write.
      The early stuff is what made me get into ‘extreme’ music so I always have a soft spot for them. Some great songs and some standard ones, all in all pretty good

  • herrschobel

    never paid any attention to The Haunted…now i am glad i changed that…very enjoyable …good energy

  • False

    Meh, embedded track sounds really generic.

  • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

    God Bless Marco Aro, as far as I’m concerned. Dolving = not a good fit for this band.

    • DeadHead

      I dont know man. Revolver, Versus, The Dead Eye were all solid records. I liked Dolving because he never tried to do the exact same thing twice. Marco Aro has sounded the same since the first record he was in.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Never been a fan of these guys and in the past have said some quite mean things about their averagness… But I have to admit I quite enjoyed that song his vocals are less irritating than normal and the guitars are nice and chunky… might even make an effort with this one.

  • lib1

    I enjoy The Haunted and will probably pick up this record. I’m almost certain of it. I liked Exit Wounds as it was a statement that the band could play breakneck thrash like no other. Strength in numbers has fewer songs and is shorter than its predecessor, making it less exhausting.

    Oh by the way, Lamb of God is America’s version of The Haunted, not the other way around ;). The bands are dissimilar as Lamb of God’s militaristic percussion differs from the brutal melodicism of The Haunted.

  • Serkan Karabash

    Brute force!! So good.