After the amazing and yet very unexpected turn around of sound on their last album “The Dead Eye”, it was really anyone’s guess what this album would sound like. THE HAUNTED doesn’t seem to be afraid of experimentation of any kind of degree and all the members are talented enough that they could probably write and record an amazing Glam Metal album if they wanted too. But luckily for us, “Versus” is not Glam Metal.
“Versus” is actually a return to their style before Dolving (singer) first left the band. There are many songs and sections that remind me of the self-titled era of THE HAUNTED with some very aggressive modern Thrash parts that made me smile. Naturally though, the band doesn’t let all the great things from “The Dead Eye” just fade away so do expect some nice atmospheric and experimental parts on “Versus” too. Just check out the last half of the album and especially the song “Skuld”.
Which brings me to my next point; “Versus” is an oddly constructed album. Instead of choosing to mix the songs up, THE HAUNTED stick all the Thrashier songs on the front half of the album and all of the more atmospheric tracks on the end. It almost feels as though the album shifts midway through from one style to the next which hurts a bit of the flow for the album. Both ends are good in different ways with the opening selections have a lot of great aggression and the ending having some great dark tones. It’s just a strange way to structure the album I think.
It does help when THE HAUNTED have amazing performances on the album. It’s very diverse (with the split mentioned above) with some great work from all the members. It’s not quite up to par with perhaps some of the band’s earlier performances but its nothing to shake a stick at either. Some heavy riffs, dissonant melodies, and a brutal rhythm section make most of the songs catchy and memorable and Dolving’s combination of singing, roaring, and pretty much everything in-between just make it a strange but good grouping.
It should also be mentioned that once again Tue Madsen does an astounding job with the production of the album. His work is top of the line and he works so well with THE HAUNTED that whatever they do together will always be amazing. The production almost makes this album work cause if I imagine this same album with a slightly rougher production it just doesn’t seem to work.
THE HAUNTED may not be the same band as they were a decade ago and many people don’t believe that they can ever live up to their debut. “Versus” is an interesting album and quite catchy although it’s far from being their best. The odd structure and overall eclectic nature of the song choices hinders it from being a solid album but there are many standout tracks on it. This album feels like it should have been the transition from “rEVOLVEr” to “The Dead Eye” and not the follow up.
Songs to check out: “Moronic Colossus”, “Trenches”, “Rivers Run”.
(Online October 21, 2008)