Close to a hit but a couple of blanks fired too
Whilst many mourned the demise of seminal Swedish metal act At The Gates in 1996, it wasn't long until three-fifths of that band's final line-up (brothers Anders and Jonas Björler (guitars and bass respectively) and drummer Adrian Erlandsson) would resurface. With ex-Séance, ex-Satanic Slaughter guitarist Patrik Jensen started jamming with Erlandsson and it wasn't long until the Björler twins joined. The band's formidable first line-up was completed some months later when ex-Mary Beats Jane vocalist Peter Dolving took over mic duties. The result was their self titled debut album, their first of three releases that would satisfy the band's carry over At The Gates contract with Earache Records.
But the year after its release, saw both Dolving and Erlandsson leave the band at different points. Face Down vocalist Marco Aro and ex- Konkhra drummer Per Möller Jensen soon took up post for the bands far more polished sophomore effort, 2000's The Haunted Made Me Do It and their slightly rougher One Kill Wonder from 2003. These three studio albums, and 2001's Live Rounds In Tokyo rounded out the band's contract with Earache Records. Now, the band's fostering label have issued a two disc best of titled Warning Shots that not only highlights some of the band's finest metal moments, but also unearths a couple of gems for diehard fans too.
The first disc covers the band's trio of Earache studio releases and is devoid of any rarities. It is, however, chock-a-block with some of The Haunted's signature and most brutal tunes. From their self titled debut, Hate Song, Undead, In Vein, Chasm and Forensick get a Guernsey whilst Made Me Do It makes up the bulk of the disc with Trespass, Under The Surface, Hollow Ground, Dark Intentions, Bury Your Dead and Revelation. Finally, Shadow World, D.O.A., One Kill Wonder, Everlasting and Shithead represent their final studio album, One Kill Wonder. I could argue a couple of omissions versus inclusions but the bottom line is that this is a pretty damned solid cross section.
However the meat and potatoes for fans is on the second disc. The live material from Live Rounds In Tokyo - Choke Hold, Leech and Three Times - ensures no overlap with the studio material which is a smart move indeed. But the good stuff is the real hard to find and previously unreleased material. Japanese and other bonus tracks Ritual, Creed and Well Of Souls (Candlemass cover) (all are One Kill Wonder-era recordings) and Eclipse (Live Rounds In Tokyo bonus studio track) are featured but strangely enough, Burner and I'll Be Damned (from The Haunted sessions) are strangely nowhere to be found. Demos of Undead and Shattered from their Demo '97 demo are reasonably close sounding to the final product whilst the Death & Â½ Production versions of Undead, Now You Know and Blood Rust are rough and raw demos before The Haunted became The Haunted.
On the whole, Warning Shots (which features a cool interview with Anders as the liner notes) is a top best of release for The Haunted. There's essential stuff here for casual listeners and a good balance of rarities for hardcore fans. Track listing really can't be faulted but if I had one criticism, it would be the lack of inclusion of some of those harder to find bonus tracks - the aforementioned Burner and I'll Be Damned specifically. Some might think I'm splitting hairs, but if you can find the others, why not these? Still, I'm sure that won't (and shouldn't) stop people from picking this up and seeing what all the fuss is about.
(Earache Records/Riot! Entertainment)