Less thrash, more melodic
"Unseen" is the seventh studio album delivered by Swedish metallers, The Haunted and also the first in three years. The band has been constantly releasing awesome thrash metal albums over the last fifteen years, but this is something totally different.
We are all used to The Haunted delivering brutal thrash tracks, but with "Unseen" they delve a little deeper into the bottomless pit of metal genre and influences. The band has not followed the trend set on previous releases which were filled with solid thrash. They have decided to experiment a bit more with the genre. At times they dip their toes into prog-metal and Peter Dolving offers some very easy listening vocals which can be a lot more gentle compared to earlier recordings. Perhaps they've hung out with Mastodon for too long.
'Never Better' kicks the album off at a million bpm, but the first few tracks are a lot more gentle than we are used to. Don't get me wrong, the band provides solid metal and Dolving's voice is still as scary as fuck, but it is not the hardcore melodic thrash metal we expect from them and have got used to over the last fifteen odd years. There are great moments like on 'Catch 22', where we have some solid drumming from Per Möller Jensen, including an awesome solo, but it is filled with catchy riffs and vocals, and reminds me too much of Korn.
'Disappear' is very melodic and extremely easy listening, filled with chugging guitars provided by Anders Björler and Jensen. However, by the time we get to 'Motionless' we feel that we may have lost the brutal Haunted for ever. Don't get me wrong, it is a solid track, but there are some eighties rock moments on it that almost made me choke.
All hope is not lost. Finally, 'Unseen' explodes into the traditional Haunted style after the breakdown, albeit for only a short burst. This is a taste of The Haunted as we know them and we like it! Perhaps we are just not ready for a gentle and more diverse Haunted. Maybe we prefer to bash our heads to brutal thrash hits. Could this be the new dawn for The Haunted?
I must admit that I was absolutely blown away with the one minute acoustic 'Ocean Park', and this was quickly followed by melodic thrash, 'The City', which I think is the best track on the album. The equally thrash, 'Them', follows and Peter's vocals are coming through blindingly. I definitely feel that the back end of the album is a lot better than the start and probably a lot more like what we expect from the band. 'All Ends Well' is a good representation of the diversity of the album which is closed out by the stunning NIN like 'Done'. The solid production is, as always, thanks to Tue Madsen from Antfarm Studio in Denmark.
I'm not sure about this new Prog, Nu Metal and gentler approach from The Haunted. It will definitely take some getting used to. This is not like we've experienced on albums such as "Made Me Do It" and "Revolver" and I think I may be a little disappointed here. However, I also feel that with the catchy grooves, cleaner vocals and more radio friendly songs, "Unseen" may generate new fans and put the band up there with other more commercially successful metal bands, even if this may be at the expense of some hardcore fans looking for the darker, heavier anthems.
This is the most experimental and diverse album ever delivered by The Haunted. Have they gone too far? Only time will tell.