The Haunted - Exit Wounds - (9.5/10)
Published on August 26, 2014
Reborn. Reinvigorated. Retribution.
If I’m going to be frank in this review, I have to say that even before I listened to the album I was glad that The Haunted parted ways with Dolving. Sure, the guy fronted them in the beginning and his first return to the fold produced one of my favorite albums of all time in rEVOLVEr, but his influence continually pushed these Swedish thrashers further and further into the alternative metalsphere. It got to the point that Unseen left me apathetic towards one of my favorite bands with its angsty vocals and melancholic writing. That’s the past though. The Haunted’s eighth record, Exit Wounds, marks another new era for the band and the return of their second vocalist Marco Aro to the fold. I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Exit Wounds is not quite a throwback record to the previous Aro era of The Haunted that included the beastly Made Me Do It and the massively underrated and hardcore influenced One Kill Wonder. It’s more along the lines of another evolution to their sound that happens to utilize the same elements as those, returning the band towards that riff heavy punch that made those records mosh pit miracles. Ninety-five percent of alternative elements are completely trimmed from the sound and The Haunted returns to doing what they do best: riffing. And riff they do. Right away the band hits the listener with this sound pummeling out “Cutting Teeth” and adding in some melodic layers on “Psychonaut.” This is the core of what Exit Wounds is about: riffs, pounding drums, brief and slicing leads, and roaring vocals. It’s as if The Haunted have come out to make a statement and that statement is littered with the dead bodies of those slain by their infectious riffing and energetic outpour of thrash violence.
Exit Wounds is a relentless record too. In an effort to keep this style up, the album is filled with short bursts of this style so that with only 14 tracks only 2 of them actually clock in over four minutes. The above-mentioned style makes up a majority of the record, but The Haunted are not afraid to add in just enough diversity to keep it moving forward at a lightning pace. The band knocks out a hardcore swinging track with “Trend Killer” and they inject plenty of melodic death metal streaks in tracks like in “Kill the Light.” The combination of high intensity thrash and these tidbits of detail make this an album where you won’t skip a track.
The Haunted was on a downward slide before Exit Wounds and after the departure of three members my faith was a bit shaken in how this might turn out. But the additions of previously established members like drummer Erlandsson, the roaring vocals of Marco Aro, and lead guitarist Ola Englund have taken these Swedes right back to where they belong – at the top of the metal food chain. Not only is Exit Wounds one of the best that The Haunted have unleashed in their career, it’s one of the best of the year.