One Kill Wonder (Earache Records)
By: Vinnie Apicella
Well at least now when someone asks they can say The Haunted made 'em do it. Okay, bad joke, but far and away from the notion of one "hit" wonder, or "kill" if you like, The Haunted spearheaded this new age Thrash Metal resurgence currently being enjoyed by legions of pit-dwellers of a previously shaken faith, earlier led by the likes of the acclaimed At The Gates before them and the wealth of Gothenburg greats who've followed. Like few others, The Haunted don't seem to be compelled by shifting motifs from album to album, satisfied instead to excel and accelerate beyond that which they've previously done and raise the level of intensity within the ranks of an increasingly formidable battalion of black-minded bullet theorists. The songs are faster, the shifts quicker, and the songs better rounded by elongated and crafty instrumentals. Fluid harmonics forestall the fore fronted lyrical rage that's never been sharper, where right from the get-go we're exposed to Marco's sinful salvo against the religious disease that spawned "God Puppet," later greeting themes as "twisted grace," sickened minds, and "surplus killing". Framed in a makeshift news article based upon the terror let loose on a democracy gone to hell, a prevailing pain and tolerance submit to the sacrificial souls stood at attention in the face of a commandment-free division of humanity at its hopeless extreme. "Shadow World," "Everlasting" and "D.O.A." make for a lethal combination of brutality where The Haunted's trademark wall of riffs, melodic fills and bullet-like arpeggio's strike the target with deadly accuracy, all the time laying claim to a superiority in fluidity that few this heavy have capably produced. Somewhere between vintage Slayer, Napalm, At The Gates, and an uncommon In Flames, lay the likes of The Haunted's sound, built upon the apocalyptic principles of an early Death scene and dark Thrash. If there's one complaint here it's that many of the songs occupy a similar riff space, making for an easy, but needless look back for reference. From the blow out instrumental "Demon Eyes," they take a slight downward twist where the pulse skips a beat or two for tracks 7-9 but rebound afterwards to pick up steam and positively abominate for the vindictive "Bloodletting" and closing title track. Where lost innocence and subliminal desire cringe before the call of darkness, The Haunted, masked in full serial splendor, having adopted the pithy persona of both hunter and hunted successfully recreate this torturous crime scene we refer to as existence and all its crumbling glory.
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