Album Review: THE HAUNTED Exit Wounds
You can’t examine a band like The Haunted without attempting to put some perspective, or at the very least retrospective, into the mixture of criticism. The foundations of the “Gothenburg Style” of Swedish metal come from the core members of this band, they equal parts created and purveyed it throughout the last two decades. For most fans this was the closest thing we would possibly see of an At The Gates reunion until their announcement last year, which made Exit Wounds into a strange exercise for a band adrift post departure of core members.
The latest incarnation on The Haunted debuted their lineup changes on 70K Tons of Metal cruise, actually a throwback to their early years with Adrian Erlandsson returning to the drums and vocalist Marco Aro making a recent return to the band after much debate and the public departure of Peter Dolving, the man who crafted the sound of the band's last four albums. There seemed to be a rabid debate on the ship about the band and whether, with the now impending ATG album, if it was even necessary for them to make a comeback. When Aro commanded the crowd with their first public outing it became clear: this reincarnation accurately depicts how the band will succeed.
Something about this new material on Exit Wounds, the combination of Aro and Erlandsson, the decisive break from the more experimental structures… the new material is tight, pointed and aggressive. It feels like they are holding you over the edge of a cliff about to turn you into a pile of quivering man jelly at any second. Every single song, four minutes or less, perfect structure for hardcore, like on “Ghost in the Machine,” but “Trend Killer” and “Temptation” codify exactly what The Haunted created back in 2000: seemingly simple structure, but incredibly singable chorus and a ferocity not seen from the band since rEVOLVEr.
Exit Wounds not only showcases the strength of their music versus their legendary precursors, but also forges their path back to where their song writing should have taken them a decade ago. As a fan of the band the last few records were meaningless to me, I wanted to enjoy the tangents their sound had taken yet the purity of their anger became mired with attempts to stretch out their sounds. The new album precisely depicts what I wanted The Haunted to maintain throughout their nearly two decade history.
Their future may not be set with the eminent return of At The Gates soaking up two of their primary members, but that challenge may just present itself in a way that keeps what many considered a side project on track to remain the pissed off little cousin of one of the genre starting bands of the ‘90s. No matter the end result, Exit Wounds should stay on your radar for the best of the year, something I didn't expect, but am glad it turned out so well.