You Won’t See This New Direction In Unseen Coming
Friday, April 8, 2011 2 Comments
Let me begin by making one thing clear: I fucking love The Haunted. I’ve been listening to them since One Kill Wonder first came out, and I own everything they’ve ever put out (besides their greatest hits collection). So, as you could imagine, I was pretty stoked when I heard The Haunted would be putting out a new record this year. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the album they’d eventually release.
When I first heard murmurs about the upcoming album, a lot of what I heard was that it would be much slower than anything they’d put out up to that point. So what? I thought, I loved The Dead Eye. In fact, that album sits up with their self-titled and One Kill Wonder as my favorite albums of theirs. I wasn’t worried – until I found a link of a live video of the band performing “No Ghost” at some kind of award show. I watched about half of it before I shut it off, assuming this was some kind of mistake, maybe it was a cover song they were doing. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
You see, Unseen is a VERY different album. Peter Dolving claims it’s an album they’d been waiting to find the right time in their career to release. I’m not sure if I can agree that now was that time. What The Haunted released is a very uninspired and half-baked grunge rock album. That might sound harsh, but that’s the only way I can properly convey my feelings for this album. There’s a track called “Ocean Park”, just 50 seconds long, that doesn’t even feel like it was a finished idea. There’s almost nothing interesting about this track, it just seems like filler, honestly.
This album is slow, and so was The Dead Eye, but that album also had dynamics; it went from fast to slow, from heavy to soft, and did so brilliantly. Unseen is boring for the most part, with weak vocals and very half-assed guitar work [I counted only four (mediocre) solos on the entire album, and this is a band that loves their solos]. The riffs are way too simple and the tempo remains a steady rock tempo throughout, with the intro riff to “Never Better” being the fastest moment of the album. The technical prowess guitarists Anders Björler and Patrik Jensén have demonstrated throughout their careers is almost nonexistent on this release.
Dolving has always been one of my favorite metal vocalists, for a couple main reasons: his lyrics always seemed really intelligent and always very pissed off, and you could always hear it in his delivery. Most of Unseen is sung, with only a few sprinkles of screaming, but it’s the way the vocals are sung that will immediately put people off. It sounds like Dolving is going for a Black Label Society meets Nirvana meets Down kind of sound. It’s also the fact that the lyrics seem trite and rushed over the course of the album.
One clear lyrical moment I can respect, however, is during “All End Well,” where he almost explicitly states he doesn’t give a fuck what people will think of this record because he and his band want to do it. That’s a big middle-finger to the music industry and to peoples’ expectations, and seems very punk in doing so. Interestingly enough, the second half of the chorus to that song sounds oddly familiar to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” Play the lyrics of The Haunted’s “I don’t care what people say,” and Nirvana’s “No I don’t have a gun” back to back. If I’m not the only person that hears that similarity, please let me know!
Every Swedish metal band goes through a brief phase where they try and Americanize or make their sound a bit more appealing to mainstream audiences. In Flames did it with Reroute to Remain, Soilwork did it with Figure Number Five, and now The Haunted will do it with Unseen. I’m hoping The Haunted will do what Soilwork did and get back on track with their next release; they’re way too good of a band to stop now. I can respect them for trying to hone a new sound, but I truly think they could have released this album under a different name and it would have been easier to swallow as fans. This album is a Haunted album in name and tonality alone, but stylistically and thematically this is something very far from what you’d expect from the group.
Though there are a handful of songs I’ll mention below that are pretty bad ass, the album’s title track especially, but unfortunately you’ll find a lot of this album is forgettable. I have far too much faith in the musicianship of this band to write them off after Unseen’s disappointment, so I’ll still stand by them and hope they get back on track with their next release. Let me know what you thought of this record in the comments section below!
“Unseen,” “Catch 22,” “The City,” “Motionless,” and “Never Better.”