"The Haunted," I think, "I know these guys." Well, I know of these guys; I have a variety of their older songs on samplers. Over the course of 15 years as a band and six studio albums, I'm sure I'd heard something. The couple of older tunes I'd checked out on YouTube were decent.
But this...this is pretty much nothing like the older material, and is far more than just decent. Polarizing for fans from their more melodic death days, maybe, but an incredible album in its own context.
Opener "Never Better" shows that they still have a feel for their roots, perhaps slower than "No Compromise" from rEVOLVEr but with the verse in a similar structure. And there are some places later in the album that remain true to the shouted, raspier vocals, like on "The City."
But the huge melody of the chorus and the bridge on "Never Better" really show where the rest of the album is going to go. Many of the songs have the feel of a heavier, more straightforwardly metal A Perfect Circle
or a more reigned in Tool
. This is evident on tracks like "Disappear" and title track "Unseen." "Motionless" is more in the vein of metallic hardcore. I hate
to compare the delivery to My Chemical Romance, because that's probably more than enough to turn many readers off of wanting to give it a chance, but "Motionless" really does remind me of a much, MUCH better MCR. Or a more metallic Rise Against
. And then there's "No Ghost," with its huge southern metal swagger. The album is full of songs and riffs that will get stuck in your head, frequently after the first or second listen.
So if you're in the "something different" equals "sellouts! I hate
this band now!" camp, you're beyond hope and are missing out on a hugely catchy record. For everybody else, The Haunted
have found themselves in that amorphous area between metal and hard rock, conjuring up an album full of guilty pleasure hooks and an easy contender for the year's top 10 list.