23
Apr

Review: The Haunted – Unseen

A while back I was moaning that I couldn’t find The Haunted’s latest album Unseen in my local CD store. Well, a few weeks have gone by and I finally spotted it in another shop and thought why not pick it up? So that’s exactly what I did. After letting the album sink in a bit, it’s time to pen my review of the album.

Since the release of 2006’s The Dead Eye, the band have been facing continuous criticism from both fans and critics alike, and 5 years later, 2011’s Unseen is no different. This is the band sticking up their middle fingers to those that criticize, and actually delving deeper down the less thrashy, and more “experimental” and melodic path they began with The Dead Eye. It was obvious that this would be the case, as frontman Peter Dolving has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t give a fuck what people think, and that The Haunted would continue down this route regardless. In a sense, it’s almost quite commendable of the band, although it leaves Dose of Metal in a tricky spot. I mean, as a site we dislike anything that isn’t Metal, and The Haunted are barely Metal anymore. Yet we also love to stick our middle fingers to the critics and stick to our guns, and I can’t help but praise The Haunted for the same.

That’s enough rambling for now though; make the jump instead to read the review.

1. “Never Better” 3:34
2. “No Ghost” 3:34
3. “Catch 22” 3:44
4. “Disappear” 3:50
5. “Motionless” 4:25
6. “Unseen” 3:02
7. “The Skull” 4:04
8. “Ocean Park” 0:49
9. “The City” 3:08
10. “Them” 4:06
11. “All Ends Well” 4:16
12. “Done” 3:49

 

So I press play, and from the get go I knew all my predictions were right. Fans of The old Haunted (and for the record, that includes me), let it go, give it up, the band you loved is dead, so you can either embrace the new sound or as I suspect many of you already have, just move onto other bands. Personally, I was quite the fan of The Dead Eye and Versus, but Unseen is even more bizarre and odd than those two previous albums. For many this will be the final nail in the coffin…

First track ‘Never Better’ cuts straight away into a fairly Thrashy verse section, I guess initially misleading listeners. As an opening track, I actually like it somewhat. It’s not long before it breaks into a really melodic chorus though, that is undeniably catchy. And then the whole track just gets melodic and more groove oriented. It’s a fairly strong start to the album, and is reminiscent of The Dead Eye. After a bizarre fade-out, it all goes a little wrong though. Second track ‘No Ghost’ is just odd. It sounds like The Haunted trying to sound like a Southern Rock band, with Dolving doing his best Anselmo impression. I honestly raised an eyebrow and thought to myself “what the fuck?” That isn’t to say the song is bad by any stretch, but it’s also not great, and in addition, just a little too weird for my tastes. I’ve seen a lot of people, including those that hate this album, praise this song, but I just do not get it. Sorry.

As the album goes on, it becomes obvious just how diverse this album is. Diversity is a great thing, but Unseen seems to be a bit of a mixed bag. Third track ‘Catch 22’ proves to be a great track, displaying something that The Haunted fans would expect more, with heavy riffs and wide ranging vocals. Both ‘Disappear’ and ‘Motionless’ sound like something you’d expect from The Dead Eye, which should appeal to fans of that album, like me. Title track ‘Unseen’ however is still fairly awful. I just can’t really get into it, and it reminds me of when Soilwork went all cheesy and bad.

Unseen is a difficult album to digest, and not in a good ‘Dream Theater’ kind of way. I mean in a more of, it ranges from good, to downright weird, to average, to the occasional bad, kind of way. For example, the beginning of ‘The Skull’ is particularly peculiar. It begins with soft guitar passages and an impressive wide vocal harmony from Dolving, but then blasts into a typical Metal assault. The chorus is typical of the introduction, but with distorted guitar backing. The song is ok, in fact most of the songs are ok, but that’s part of the problem. None of the songs are really bad, but none are really great either, and on top of that, the band really seem to lack focus or real direction. It’s difficult to really understand what The Haunted were trying to achieve with this release, and it leaves me feeling a little lost at times. It’s like they just wanted to prove that they could pull off (albeit, only fairly successfully) a full range of different styles and approaches. The album doesn’t contain any absolutely abysmal songs, and for the most part, each song is decent (with I guess the exception of the title track), but it certainly feels like it’s lacking something.

Overall, Unseen stands as a good album, but one with too many flaws to ignore. In terms of style, those craving the heavy and Thrash sounds of The Haunted of the past, will most likely hate this, but those fans of either The Dead Eye and/or Versus will certainly find something to enjoy here. So if you’re a fan of all the different sides of The Haunted, it is worth checking out Unseen, however, it’s in my honest opinion that this album is their weakest yet.


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