The Haunted // Unseen
Rating: 1.5/5.0 —Best left unheard too
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: www.the-haunted.com | myspace.com/thehaunted
Release Dates: EU: 21.03.2011 | US: 03.22.2011

I’m sure most know the history of The Haunted and how they formed from the ashes of the legendary At The Gates. Despite my love for At The Gates, I never fully understood the stellar press and support The Haunted received and always felt they were one of the most overrated bands on the planet. Eventually they started to drift toward a more metalcore style and I lost the limited interest I had in them. Now they’re back with album seven Unseen and they’ve left their thrash days in the dust, probably for good. Instead, they deliver a strange, directionless mess of experimentation, emo angst, nu-metal and alt-rock. It’s clear they’re writing only for themselves and could care less what their fans expect or hope for at this point. While that’s admirable from an artistic perspective, when the results are this tedious and uninspiring, it’s both tragic and cringe-inducing. No matter how brave and creative they want to be, at the end of the day they should still be striving to write good music and they seem to have forgotten that here.

This is a schizophrentic album from the start. Lead track “Never Better” starts as a nu-metal dud before morphing into a more alt-rock style with a decently catchy chorus. However, the reek of nu-metal/core can’t be shaken off. The album highlight “No Ghost” sounds a lot like Clutch or Corrosion of Conformity (think “Albatross”) and as strange as it sounds coming from The Haunted, it’s actually a good song. After that the identity crisis or willful attempt to be challenging hits full stride and we get songs with Faith No More influences (“Catch 22″), straight-up angsty emo rock (“Dissapear,” “Unseen” and “All Ends Well”), songs that would fit better in the Foo Fighters catalogue (“Motionless”) and lastly, metalcore with a bit of modern thrash and groove (“The Skull,” “The City” and “Them”). While I have to give them credit for trying to stretch their sound, this ends up trying to go in every direction at once and ultimately just feels lost and scattered. It’s almost like they couldn’t decide what style to pursue so they tried them all. While some songs manage to have memorable bits or a catchy chorus, the overall impression is one of a stylistic train wreck.

The Haunted 2011In fairness, vocalist Peter Dolving deserves some recognition for fitting into the diverse styles The Haunted explores here. He shows he can be a versatile front man and I was impressed at times by the shades of his performance. Sadly, too much of his vocals still end up being typical metalcore screamo crap which I can’t stand. The guitar work of Patrik Jensen and Anders Bjorler is disappointingly mediocre on many tracks and only occasionally do they hit upon an inspired riff (“No Ghost” sounds great and the riffing in “The Skull” is OK).

Truth be told, I had a great deal of trouble giving  this album the repeated spins required to be fair. After one listen all I wanted to do was treat it like I treated St Anger and throw it in trash. I did ultimately stick with it and sat through it over and over again to see if things clicked somehow. They didn’t. For people who like metalcore, nu-metal or emo, this may be quite an interesting release. However, Steel Druhm cares not for those styles so to my ears, this is pretty rotten. Although I was never fully enamored with The Haunted, I can now say they will be completely dropped from my musical consciousness forevermore.

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  • Jonas Nyberg

    Hmm. You Are a stupid fuck! This album totyally rocks! More that you ever Will do. Fuck you!!

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

      OJojoj… Stackars lilla Jonas. Blev du sur? Känns det inte bra när nÃ¥gon inte tycker om band som du tycker om? :’(

  • Steel Druhm

    Jonas,

    You make some solid, well thought out and articulated points. This album still sucks though.

  • http://n/a Ed C

    Well..its clear you dont have a wide birth for taste, expression or..well logic, you claim one of the reasons it “sucks” is because it is written for the band themselves…hmm, so would you rather have bands playing the same shit as everyone else while hating every minute of it and delivering poor “directionless” performances…perhaps that last quote there “directionless” would have not existed if, perhaps you tried some experimentation with your perception of reality, just a thought..bit of philosophy, travel, understanding and meditation never hurt anyone…”"”metal”"” or otherwise…unless of course, you still buy into the beavis and butthead stereotype of satanic evil brutality 24/7…perhaps best to fantasize in private with images of gorgoroth member samoth being all dark and “TRVE”..sorry to make some leaps of judgement but your article doesnt seem very well written..shame, this kind of review and unpaid downloads is whats killing metal….better go download a whole loa dof pop, seed it and then try and do some good, you know, to work off the deficit you created with this lame ass review to rei9nforce the stereotypes and neanderthal values of mainstream metalheads….

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

      Ah, yes. The classic “If you don’t agree with me you must be stupid argument.” This seems to be a staple of every poorly adjusted know-it-all’s repertoire.

      • Steel Druhm

        LOL AMG. I helped contribute to the decline of metal by not liking the same album Ed did. Who knew?

  • Steel Druhm

    Ed,

    I think you might want to try reading for comprehension. I did not say it sucks because they wrote it for themselves. I said it was admirable when artists do that but here the results are not good. While I appreciate experimentation and trying new things, in all honesty sometimes the new things do not work and a band loses what made them good once. I was never a big fan even when they were straight up thrash but what they are trying to do here seems forced and uninteresting. If you love it and think this is what metal needs, good for you. I’m glad you enjoy it. I think the album is crap and I think most of the songs are uninspired. I gave them credit for trying new things but ultimately, I didn’t enjoy the end result. To suggest my dislike of this album is somehow contributing to the killing of metal is one of the most idiotic comments I’ve heard in awhile but hey, you’re entitled to your opinion.

  • http://n/a Ed C

    ok, after a full listen and a think….well, for now all i can say is (in my opinion at least..for what its worth) it is a great piece of work, its clearly art and it is akin to a multifaceted gem-like view of reality. it has a wide scope and expression. Its across the board sonically…myself i like all of it so far, with more time to let it soak in i can feelmyself liking it more and more. I must also commend you on breaking the stereotypical tracklisting, saving the songs that deal more with expression at the end..and instead starting off with a mix of that+power. (such power) for those who craved the harder edge..you should be very satisfied..those who are not afraid to feel the levels this records go to, you will be extatic…if you like everyone from the beatles thru to at the gates and on to corrosion of conformity, APC and at the drive in and a touch of Floyd, Bring the war home and Down (although some of that may be me) -yes its a big mix of amazingness (unless your limiting your eclecticism and therefore experiential enjoyment and fulfilment..) you will be happy, just dont go looking for the aforementioned..or a steretypical swedish band/album specific haunted clone..those references serve as a “post-first listen” relation to what I already knew.

    FOr those who wanted the first album again, and are severely dissapointed to the point of insults..i urge you to listen to track 11 again…specifically the chorus..in my eyes, all ends well :P

    It is clearly a HAUNTED album, but A haunted album that shows a lot of growth.

    BRAVO

    P.s. I love the way no ghost comes across to me- along with a lot of the album, especially motionless..a lot of good points on “belief systems” etc..though thats just my interpretation.”a parody of what we could have had”…indeed, we still can….oh, i also cant wait to hear what that little peep of a sigh turns into at the very end of track 12

    Excellent..in fact the more i think about it, the more i like it..cant wait to get this album.

  • http://n/a Ed C

    p.s. apologies for coming across as if your disgreeing with me makes you wrong, that is not what i was thinking..so apologies there…i just think that constant “angry” “speed ahead” bands become boring fast and create and ad to a stereotype that is killing metal, and it felt that because this wasnt all there it was no good – from your comment, i guess that is also not the intent of your message. well, thanks for a well reasoned response!

  • Steel Druhm

    No worries Ed. Everyone has their own taste in music. I wasn’t expecting a repeat of their early albums, I just didn’t enjoy what they tried to do here. Such is life.

  • http://thekleptosgtm.blogspot.com/ The Klepto

    I like their earlier stuff, most notably their self-titled and The Haunted Made Me Do It. Those are really the only two albums I’ve heard more then once, so I’m not a great person to break through the band’s discography. But I like what I like and I’ll stick with that

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

      As you should! I make no apologies for my taste and neither should anyone else. Musical taste is per definition, subjective.

  • Dean Heckler

    you stupid fuck-witt how can you say that the haunted are a overrated band?
    Have you seen them live?
    The haunted are the best band in the fucking world.You absolute tool.
    By the way i listened to the new album 4 times in a row at work,knowing full well it would be a hard listen.Easily best album by far Dead eye was my favourite.Im so glad they dropped out the the thrash scene cause its shit.Everyone is playing that same riffy shit.BORING
    This album sounds and feels like king crimson/porcupine tree to me.Prog-Metal:)

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

      Ah yes, it appears that the shittier a band is, the dumber, more macho and more aggressive their fanbase is. Are we discovering a correlation? Yay! Science!

  • Steel Druhm

    Hey Dean, IMHO, this album blows muchly. If you like it, kudos to you. The name calling is pretty weak though. It’s pretty easy to be tough in front of a monitor.

  • sodomite

    This album is a disgrace ! But there are maybe some gay emo people that will enjoy this shitty piece of work.

  • dheim

    far from being a gay emo guy (being a super macho death metal kickass guy :)), i’m actually liking this album… not entirely my thing (being etc etc), and i understand it’s totally not yours (SD), but in my opinion you’ve been a bit too harsh against it. just an opinion, though!

  • Steel Druhm

    Dheim

    I actually went back to this several times to listen further and each time I came away with the same negative reaction. If you found some worthwhile material here, I respect that but I really disliked it.

  • Tom

    Well, it’s definitely not the good-old Haunted, but a different direction of experimental music.
    Not bad at all, but knowing what they are capable of (I loved rEVOLVEr very much, it kicks my ass as hell any time I listen to it) Unseen is by far not the best from them.
    If it was made by another band, I would say, I kinda like it. This is my opinion.
    Peace

  • The Horror Anthem

    Listening to this album now, I don’t care if it’s The Haunted, I don’t care if it is an experiment, i don’t care if it is looked at as maturing, it sucks. It is not art even in the least, it is a rock album searching the radio air waves from a band who still likes heavy, nothing more. Feels more like a mid life crisis than some sort of career progression. Had this been a debut by a new band I still would not enjoy it at all.

  • The Horror Anthem

    Might I add, before anyone claims I am close minded or some sort of music coward who fears change, I want to throw out that my music taste is universe wide, I listen regularly to everything from Sunn O))) to Tom Waits to Frank Sinatra to Meshuggah to Devin Townsend to Captain Beefheart to Scott Walker and on and on.

  • Soulmanufacture

    This album is mainstream garbage. That is not an opinion, it is fact. I read it on wikipedia so it must be true. Everyone is obviously going to force their opinion on you via comments so there is no reason to huff and puff about it. I will say that it is kinda sweet that everytime someone says something hurtful to Angry Metal Guy, Steel Druhm has to back him up with the next comment! Are you two boyfriends? Very cute!

    Dean Heckler – You are a fuck!
    Angry Metal Guy – No way man!!
    Steel Drum – I fight you now! You not tough man behind computer!!
    Angry Metal Guy – High five!……but with our wangs.

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

      This album is indeed mainstream garbage.

      And no, Steel Druhm is not my boyfriend. He’s my bitch.

      Anyway, I tend to call all idiots who post stupid comments on my blog names. And if Mr. the Druhm wants to join in, he’s very much welcome to. I think I tend to usually just mess with people who are stupid and aggressive with their opinions.

    • Steel Druhm

      Soulmanufacture,

      This was the biggest laugh of a pretty funny weekend for me. Well played sir!

  • Daniel

    To The Klepto – Your loss for not listening to their other albums more than once. Ever heard of the term ‘grower’?
    Anyway, my favourite of theirs would have to be The Dead Eye, I really really enjoyed this as it was the first cd of theirs I heard so I wasn’t goin in with any expectations of them sticking to a certain genre. With Unseen they seem to be stuck btw the different styles of The Dead Eye and Versus. I like Unseen, mainly for Pete Dolving’s vocal work, he delivers a great range and really makes this album worth listening to, as I can get into vocal driven albums as I can guitar driven ones, where the vocalist sucks. If you expect every musican in an album to be firing on all cylinders then don’t listen to this cd…I got the impression Dolving was singing what he wanted and the guitarists were just playing simple power chord riffs to suit his songs.

  • Daniel

    p.s. love this site, only just discovered it a week ago – well done AMG! Really well written reveiws regardless of whether I agree with them.

  • Gustavo M.

    Thanks for the review, I just got the album some days ago but I can tell you that this album is one of the best examples on why metal bands should never surrender to mainstream music. They dared to experiment and I can tell you they were successful. You have your own reasons to dislike the result but I think just the opposite, if they are not “metal” enough for you that’s just your opinion for some other people who appreciate the fact that a band should evolve this is a perfect example, I still think this is a good album!

  • Steel Druhm

    Gustavo,

    What you fail to mention is their experimentation in fact made them a mainstream band.

  • Gustavo M.

    Got your point, I think just the opposite cause experimentation is the reason they are evolving, they are not like some other boring old bands trying to get a different result using the same “metal” formula.
    I can tell you for sure they are not going to be on MTV top 10 for doing this.

  • Eero-Indrek

    I appreciate your attempts to be fair and despite the fact that you clearly dislike this album you give credit where credit is due. I suppose the only comment I have would be to rebut your analysis of their “schizophrenic” style in this album. Not every band can or should evolve the extreme music genre, however The Haunted have taken it upon themselves to do that daunting task. For those of us who are open to exploring what new extreme music can sound like, The Haunted are pioneers and they certainly have the talent, intelligence and prowess to stretch the boundaries.

    I just got this album today I admit it took some getting used to but there is some brilliant music here, and The Haunted have yet to disappoint this old At The Gates fan from back in the day.

    - Eero

  • Steel Druhm

    Eero-Thanks for the kind words. I always try to be fair and some tracks were good, as were the vocals but overall their evolution didn’t work for me here.

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