My thoughts on: The Haunted

Let’s imagine for a second, you hear a band’s name, but you haven’t yet heard their music. How do you know if they’re shit or not? One friend I had in high school had one very simple theory. “Are they a ‘the’ band?” he would ask. You may be wondering what he means by this, but it’s very simple. My friend used to think that all bands that start with the word ‘the’ were shit, and he wasn’t far wrong. The Strokes, The Kooks, The Hives, The Killers; all of these bands are utter horse crap, as you probably know all too well. Theory proved? Well, all theories have their flaws, however, and The Haunted are this theory’s  flaw.

Read on for my thoughts on this Swedish Thrash band.

The early years (1996-1998)

What does the above image have to do with The Haunted? No idea, but Google is lame and wouldn’t find me the image I wanted. Apparently Google is fine at finding images of sheep nailing each other, but the second you look for an image of The Haunted‘s debut album in 710 pixels wide or over, you’re fucked. Typical.

Formed from the remains of the now legendary, At The Gates, The Haunted began in 1996, with the Björler brothers and Adrian Erlandsson from At The Gates, Patrik Jensen and bat-shit insane, mad genius Peter Dolving completing the original line-up.

The band went on to release their début self-titled album, which took on a more Thrash and Groove inspired sound than the more Melodic Death Metal sound that had became associated with At The Gates. It was clear from this day that The Haunted were going to be their own kind of beast, and the album went on to gain critical acclaim from much of the Metal press. The complexity and craftsmanship displayed on the album, not to mention Dolving‘s brilliant lyrics, caught the attention of Terrorizer magazine, who awarded the band album of the year, for 1998.


The Haunted Made Me Do It and One Kill Wonder (1999-2003)

What did The Haunted make me do? Everything and anything, to be honest. They wanted the blame, so why not give it? “Mark, why is there sheep porn on the computer?” my mom would ask, “The Haunted made me do it mom!” I’d respond. Ok, it didn’t always work, but from 2000 to 2003, I could try and blame everything on the band. It’s those pesky subliminal messages about Satan and masturbation of course. Fortunately, my mom wasn’t silly enough to try and sue the band.

Onto a bit of seriousness now. The Haunted Made Me Do It, released in 2000, was the band’s second album. In 1999 The Haunted took a huge blow, and lost two of their major limbs. They lost vocalist Peter Dolving and in addition, also lost Erlandsson, and replaced him with Per Möller Jense. What were the band to do without the genius that is Dolving? They recruited Marco Aro as the new vocalist. Who is he? Other than being the now ex vocalist of The Haunted, I have no fucking idea. I’m not God, I don’t see and know everything.

So The Haunted lost two of their members in just one year. Would that stop them? Fuck no. Would that stop them being any less brilliant? Hell no. Made Me Do It is a fantastic album, combining the aggression of their début with a slightly more melodic sound, without sacrificing any of their integrity. Marco Aro also did an amazing job on vocals and wasn’t a million miles away from Dolving‘s unique style. Hollow Ground has always remained one of my favorite Haunted tracks.

So what happened next? Well the band were launched into the center stage of Metal and ended up touring with some awesome bands (Nile, Napalm Death and Entombed to name a few). Guitarist Anders Björler also left the band, but he returned less than a year later (I know, this band is like a freaking soap opera). The Haunted began to make a name for themselves, and began work on their third album, One Kill Wonder. The album had one single, which also happened to be one of their best songs. D.O.A., a track with an accompanying video that is awesomely gruesome.

The Haunted then lost another member, Marco Aro, but not to worry, because that meant original vocalist Peter Dolving could come back, and that he did.


Dolving returns and The Haunted rEVOLVE (2004-2007)

Aro‘s exit may have been a shock, but every cloud has its silver lining, and Dolving returned for the band’s fifth album and best, rEVOLVEr, released in 2004. The band evolved on this release (And the clue is in the name), combining the thrashy sound of their début with the more refined songwriting and production of their later releases. The return of Dolving also meant that a different vocal approach was evident on rEVOLVEr. This release also marked the first time the band would begin to experiment with slower and darker moods, and more melodic sounds. And call me the Anti-Metal, but I’m always down with a bit of melody.

By the time of The Haunted‘s sixth release, The Dead Eye (2006), the band experimented even more, displaying an even more sinister and melodic sound to their music. The band continued their course of evolution, despite some mixed reactions from critics. Fuck critics anyways, The Dead Eye was awesome. Yeah ok, I may be technically a critic, so fuck me too, but  my opinion owns every ones’. Although the album gained a mix response, the band have continued doing as they please and many of their recent songs have remained crowd favorites at live performances. For that I kind of respect them for not doing some bullshit “back to roots” album.


Versus and the future (2008-the present)

Ok, so I said the band never did a “back to roots” record, but to be fair, the band did record the instruments for 2008’s Versus live, for the first time since their début. The album also marks a return to their more aggressive sound of their previous albums. So was I talking bullshit? Probably, I often am, but seriously, no I wasn’t. Although the album is more aggressive, it still continues to show more evolution in the band’s sound. Although heavier than The Dead Eye, Versus still make room for dark down-tempo sections and sinister melodies. Although I didn’t enjoy Versus as much as The Dead Eye, it’s still a damn good, well balanced album.

So what does the future hold for The Haunted? Well actually, they have a new album coming out soon. This month kind of “soon” actually. If you’re a regular reader of Dose of Metal, you should already know all the details. If you’re not a regular reader, then why the fuck not? It’s time for you to start catching up on what you’ve missed.

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