The Swedish metal machine known as The Haunted have returned from what seemed like the brink of extinction this past Tuesday with a brand new, three song digital single and 7" record titled Eye of the Storm.
The title track serves as a taste to the as-yet-untitled "comeback" release for The Haunted for which the band has been entrenched writing and recording since the departure of three critical members from their ranks back in 2012.
Eye of the Storm signifies the debut of a brand new lineup for The Haunted, with lead guitarist Ola Englund replacing founding At the Gates axeman Anders Bjorler, as well as two familiar faces rejoining the band's ranks in former frontman Marco Aro and drummer Adrian Erlandsson taking their former places in the band in lieu of departed singer Peter Dolving and drummer Per Moller Jensen.
Musically, Eye of the Storm seems to signify a return to the extreme thrash metal roots of The Haunted, standing in strict opposition to the experimentalism and moodiness which reared their heads first on 2006's The Dead Eye before wearing out their welcome for fans in 2011 with the disastrous Unseen release, an album which suffered severe critical and commercial failure here in the States.
The creative core within The Haunted now seems to be re-focused on capturing the fast-paced, high octane magic which was present on the band's formative 1998 debut and its two follow-ups, The Haunted Made Me Do It in 2000 and 2003's One Kill Wonder. Erlandsson's rhythms recall his work in both At the Gates and that self-titled Haunted effort, driving each of these three tracks with energy and aggressive intent, while the riffs of Englund and fellow-founding string slasher Jensen smoke with defiant purpose, almost as if to claim "The Haunted is BACK."
It's the second track on the single, "Infiltrator," which represents this devil-may-care speed attack best, balancing a speedy yet melodic chorus with a fist-pumping, circle pit-inducing verse section which sounds tailor made for the live arena. Elsewhere, "My Enemy" is a short and sweet assault reminiscent of "Revelation" from the Made Me Do It release; a song which departs almost as soon as it arrives, likely leaving behind broken bones and bodies in its wake.
Finally, "Eye of the Storm" comes across as the most dynamic and well-conceived of the lot, a track which seems to embrace the legacy of The Haunted as a whole; one which wouldn't sound out of place on the Dolving-fronted Revolver release at all with it's mid-paced chorus, melodic solo section and riffy bridge. Speaking of which, Aro's vocals should evoke some memories within longtime fans, as not much has changed with the burly singer's throaty growl and belligerent, physical delivery. Dolving's unique clean tone and aggressive dynamics are indeed missed a bit, but there's no doubt as to Aro's position as the singer most comfortable and at ease with this sort of material.
All in all, Eye of the Storm brings a lot of familiarity to the table for fans of The Haunted, while serving simultaneously as an intriguing taste of the forthcoming full length. There's nothing new to hear, of course, but it seems as if many followers of the band have been clamoring for a no-nonsense thrash attack for many years now, and with Eye of the Storm, those prayers have been answered.
PURCHASE 'EYE OF THE STORM' FROM ITUNES HERE.