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The Haunted The Dead Eye

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Thursday, November 30, 2006 @ 0:40 AM


On Century Media

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To this point, Sweden’s The Haunted have been a dependable, if unspectacular, thrash band. And there’s no real shame in that. The quintet’s gritty, buzz-sawing riffs, hard-charging tempos and bulldog tenacity — all holdovers from cult legends At The Gates, from which The Haunted emerged — made up in raw aggression and power what they may have lacked in dexterity or, to a certain extent, diversity.

The band’s fifth studio album, The Dead Eye, however, aims for a more balanced equation — and ends up being something of a hit-or-miss proposition. There certainly is a lot more going on here — melodically, rhythmically and conceptually — than on any of The Haunted’s previous albums. “The Fallout,” for instance, is one of the more radical departures, sounding almost like Nine Inch Nails with its sparse backbeat, electronic tinges and the breathy vocals of enigmatic frontman Peter Dolving, who returned after two albums away for 2004’s blistering rEVOLVEr.

Less markedly different, and more indicative of the band’s modus operandi here, are “The Medusa,” “The Reflection” or “The Failure,” mid-paced, groove-oriented tracks with an occasional smattering of acoustic guitar that seem to follow the flow of Dolving’s constantly shifting moods — from contemplative to somber to belligerent.

Fear not, though, The Haunted have not hopped on the metal-core bandwagon — there are thankfully no rote breakdowns or calculated sing-and-scream shenanigans — they’ve just slowed things down quite a bit in the hopes, perhaps, of having more of an overall impact. But they probably slowed things down a bit too much. The otherwise bruising “The Drowning” or “The Shifter” lose steam when they decelerate midway through. And with the aforementioned “The Medusa” or the deliberate “The Reflection” being more the rule than the exception, The Dead Eye has a tendency to drag.

A happier medium between the rampaging “The Prosecution” or “The Stain” and the more reflective, less adrenalized material might have made for a smoother transition here, but give The Haunted credit for at least trying something different at this stage of the game instead of playing it safe and simply doing another full-on thrash album. Even if they suffer a bit now from The Dead Eye’s failings, so to speak, The Haunted will probably be better off for it in the end by opening the doors to a more wide-ranging sound and perhaps moving beyond being thought of as just a mere “thrash band.”

** ½


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