Reviewed By Justin Donnelly
Published 05 November, 2006
One small step for the Swedes, one giant leap for their faithful fans
After The Haunted reunited with vocalist Peter Dolving following the departure of Marco Aro (Who appeared 2000's The Haunted Made Me Do It, 2001's live album Live Rounds In Tokyo and 2003's One Kill Wonder), many anticipated the Swedish based group would return back to the sound that was evident on their self-titled debut. But in a surprise move, The Haunted decided to experiment a little and explore territory beyond the melodic death/thrash template of their past, with 2004's rEVOLVEr revealing a greater diversity and mix of songs that were both aggressive and melodic, which attracted as much acclaim as it did criticism from press and fans alike.
In the lead up to recording their follow up to rEVOLVEr, there's a large amount of speculation from all quarters as to which direction The Haunted (Who are vocalist Peter Dolving, guitarists Patrik Jensen and Anders Björler, bassist Jonas Björler and drummer Per M. Jensen) would take next, and with The Dead Eye, it's safe to say that it's not where most would expect.
In a lot of ways, The Dead Eye is a natural progression from rEVOLVEr. But while those who enjoyed rEVOLVEr would have no doubt predicted a small step forward in that direction, what will surprise most is the group's obvious giant leap beyond the evolution of rEVOLVEr, as the majority of The Dead Eye relies on atmospherics and Dolving's growing vocal melodies rather than the thrash sound of their past.
After the slow building introduction piece The Premonition, The Haunted dive headlong into familiar territory with the melodic opener The Flood (Which features a great middle section, where Dolving shows his clean vocals are every bit as worthy as his screamed efforts) and the aggressive follow up The Medication, but it's with The Drowning that the band really start to broaden the song writing a little more with Dolving's unique phrasing and wider ranged vocals becoming the main focus (Aside from the Tool like/progressive interlude around the half way mark), which more than works in helping shaping one of the many highlights on the album.
The melodic/atmospheric/clean-vocalised/hybrid thrash based experimentation continues with The Reflection and the impending live classic The Cynic, while The Prosecution, The Stain and, for the most part, The Shifter will appeal to those whose tastes drift towards the heavier side of The Haunted's thrash sound. While there's no denying the band's ability to thrash with the best, it's track such as The Fallout, The Medusa (The one track that's sure to divide fans of the old and those who embraced rEVOLVEr), the progressive tones within The Failure and the towering closer The Guilt Trip (Including the uncredited piano based/Nine Inch Nails addition at the end) that will ready splinter fans into old and new camps.
Overall, The Dead Eye is a huge step for The Haunted, and one that some fans may not be willing to take. But for those who were willing to accept the band's reinvention on the classic rEVOLVEr, be prepared to take a giant leap forward on The Dead Eye.
(Century Media Records/Stomp Records Distribution)