THE HAUNTED have always been at the forefront of the Modern Thrash Metal assault ever since they released their self-titled debut in 1998. But their second album was only good and not great, and their new singer, Marco Aro seemed to take the blunt of the hatred from fans of the band. Granted his vocals were the weakest element on “Made Me Do It”, but they were still very far from being bad. So when I eventually picked up the third release from the Swedish Thrashers, entitled “One Kill Wonder” I had expected essentially more of the same from their second disc.
The band barely changed at all on this release. “One Kill Wonder” is still undeniably THE HAUNTED at its main writing and application stages, but what makes “One Kill Wonder” so surprising is not that the band has made radical changes but they just tightened everything up. To put it simply, THE HAUNTED is just plain better on this third album. The flaws of “Made Me Do It” have almost all been erased for “One Kill Wonder” and the band simply devote themselves to being a Thrash Metal machine for the record. The band sounds tighter, more aggressive, and overly just superior than they were from their second release. It’s a subtle change that makes a world of difference.
The band had always dabbled in some more atmospheric work on their album but sans the intro “Privation Of Faith Inc.” or the instrumental track “Demon Eyes” the band cuts out almost all the atmospheric guitar and vocal work from the songs (I would say some of the soloing tends to give some good atmosphere but that is just good writing and playing). From the first full song “Godpuppet” to the catchy and rhythmatic “One Kill Wonder” the band flurries off at almost full speed only slowing down for some drawn out soloing and the staccato marching beat of “D.O.A.”. It’s as if all the instruments are on fire and the only way to dose the flames is to riff the blast the hell out of them. It works. The band is vicious on this record with their music and it fully works to their advantage.
Even Marco Aro feels more at home on “One Kill Wonder”. Where he tried so hard to be that Thrash singer everyone enjoys on the album prior, he simply abandons that idea and roars. His deeper tonality and more guttural style tend to make this album lean towards a Death Metal light, but the rest of the band still Thrashes it out with the best of Modern Thrash. Aro nails his performance on “One Kill Wonder” and I’m sure this album will nail the coffin on his critics.
If you still enjoy your Thrash to have tons of melody written into the speed and chaos then I advise to avoid “One Kill Wonder” at all costs. This album is brutal with the riffing and the impressively precise drum work to the end. Of course many of the melodies are still in the mix (both guitarists are amazing at throwing in those leads quickly into the riffs) but this album will run most of those melodic parts over with a steamroller. It’s a lean mean Thrash riffing machine and nothing feels like it could stop it.
THE HAUNTED have redeemed themselves over the misstep that was “Made Me Do It” and they did with a lethal dose of “One Kill Wonder”. Fans of Modern Thrash should look no further than this record.
Songs to check out: “D.O.A.”, “Godpuppet”, “Shithead”.
(Online April 26, 2009)