Return of Marco Aro

Originally formed in 1994, Swedish troupe Face Down peddled a brand of Machine Head-influenced thrash which quickly found favour with the burgeoning nu-metal movement when their debut album was released through Roadrunner Records in 1996. The band was tipped for success by the more mainstream UK metal publications, but it was not fated to be. A follow-up LP on Nuclear Blast was largely ignored, and their fate was sealed when vocalist Marco Aro jumped ship to scream for The Haunted in 1999. The group split soon after.

Marco's recent departure from The Haunted has prompted Face Down to entice him back into the ranks and give it another bash. Given the growing popularity of Marco's former outfit, the temptation must have been strong to stick as close to The Haunted's template as possible in the hope that some of that success would rub off. And indeed, the musical approach of 'The Will To Power' can be summed up in three words: "One Kill Wonder". Or you could make it eight words, and add 'not quite as good as'. Each of the ten tracks on this new CD could have fitted comfortably onto Marco's final album with The Haunted, but unfortunately there's no 'Shadow World' or 'Shithead' equivalent. Even the production, courtesy of Clawfinger's Jocke Skog, almost perfectly replicates the thick and noisy wall of sound achieved on "One Kill Wonder". And as is usual for the genre, the lyrical themes could have been pilfered from Tom Araya and Kerry King's notebooks, dealing as they do with serial killers, war, and man's inhumanity to man in general.

But make no mistake: despite the overwhelming familiarity, there is quality here. The riffs are more than fat and chugging enough, and new drummer Erik Thyselius (Construcdead, Terror 2000) delivers a sterling and powerful performance. Marco's throaty bellow is still a distinctive and welcome alternative to the more prevalent Peter Dolving/Tomas Lindberg Gothenthrash rasp. This album may not quite possess the elusive Haunted X-factor, but it'll make you bang your head nevertheless.

If you were disappointed by the more hardcore turn The Haunted took with "rEVOLVEr" and you've played your copy of "One Kill Wonder" to the point where the CD has been worn thin by your stereo's laser, then "The Will To Power" is a worthwhile purchase. This is a solid and enjoyable album of modern, Swedish-style thrash metal which unfortunately stands somewhat in the shadow of Marco's old band. The cover artwork is rubbish, though.