I’m not a big fan of THE HAUNTED’s Post-Thrash efforts of previous years due to the half-assed riffs and soft-balling. When you approach an album with such baggage it makes it entirely easy to be completely taken aback when struck with such a surprising blow out of left field. “The Dead Eye” is a completely different animal from these Swedes past efforts, featuring prolonged absences of anything remotely Metal and running the gamut of tempos in an effort which could only be described as experimental.
No one is ever going to accuse this five-piece of stagnating. When push came to shove, these guys had the balls to release an awkwardly fringe Metal album to a rabid Thrash fan-base, mimicking in nature SLIPKNOT’s surprising maturation. The funny thing is, “The Dead Eye” actually has moments which impress me, where “The Haunted Made Me Do It” or “One Kill Wonder” did not possess even a single riff which made my head bob. This may be a bit softer at times and outright surprising, but one can only smirk at the renewed focus this band has brought to the table. Instead of riding the curtails of a weak Neo-Thrash scene they have actually offered a solid album which hints at dry sincerity and overt integrity from the get-go. For that reason alone I can appreciate this disc, even if it is not my cup of tea.
I already made your heart skip a beat by mentioning SLIPKNOT, but comparisons to Corey Taylor’s work are necessary to look from the outward in and attempt to understand this album. Peter Dolving’s vocals are a direct continuation from what we were graced with on “rEVOLVEr” and feature a thorough mix of the Hardcore shouting and the clean STONE SOUR-esque articulation. His voice does not sound like Taylor, but the rhythms utilized and the constant shifting from clean to rough is clearly evident. Tracks like “The Crowning” show-case this approach where he will be screaming his goddamn heart out one minute and then a sudden tempo change will occur, and we get that “I’m drowning in the fear of gods/The more I see the less I want/I was not raised to shut my mouth/But as long as it holds me, I will fight him and scold him/ALL-MY-LIFE!!!” It’s effective for what it’s worth and is a step up emotionally.
The riffing is there, albeit in sparse amounts. Guitar emphasis is like a revolving door, where certain tracks will possess a solid set of riffs and then a track which relies on a bit of background noise and a single melody will rear its head, upping the diversity while lowering the intensity. Tempos constantly shift as well, managing to keep a relatively straightforward track always interesting and on the front burner. The riffs themselves do seem to have a greater deal in common with STONE SOUR’s career than anything even remotely related to Metal. At times the tempo will kicked up a notch and you’ll hear a faint murmur akin to “Hate Song”, but it will quickly fade in lieu of catchy vocals and accessible musicianship.
While this is certainly not my game, I cannot see how fans of THE HAUNTED can feel so betrayed. This is not as borderline-brutal as the self-titled, but more importantly it is sincere; something this project has not been in a long while. This is a band at its most honest and intimate moment, tearing away the bull-shit and leaving it all on the table. Rarely are we afforded that level of clarity.
(Online November 23, 2006)