THE HAUNTED - Versus
September 2, 2008, 12 years ago
I’m a big believer in the ‘credit where it’s due’ maxim and, as such, praise has to be sent out in The Haunted’s direction for a couple of reasons. First, despite the aggressively negative reaction that greeted the band’s 2006 effort, The Dead Eye, The Haunted has not come back at us with the ultra-thrash record everyone expected; the group has stayed steadfast in its attempt to branch out of the linear, thrash confines of its past and for that, the band must be commended. Second, The Haunted has actually put together a pretty good album this time around, expanding into heretofore unventured territories but still keeping it relatively heavy and slightly thrash-oriented: this, thankfully, isn’t the complete abandonment of The Dead Eye. In that vein, Versus is a solid metal record, one that isn’t afraid to explore dynamic and texture, but still dissertates authentically and without contrived pretence like The Dead Eye did. In fact, Versus feels quite loose and at peace with itself, something we haven’t heard from The Haunted since the Marco years - one wonders if the recent At The Gates reunion’s proverbial silencing of the lambs has something to do with it. In any case, there is an impressive multitude of unique things going on here and as the record progresses it becomes an interesting process to try and figure where The Haunted is heading next, the exercise usually to positive effect. A welcome return for these Gothenburg guys (particularly the attitude-laden top track ’Moronic Colossus’), especially since the band hasn’t abandoned the stated goal of expanding its sound: this time, The Haunted did it the right way.