I myself expect an incredible amount from THE HAUNTED. Any band with the former AT THE GATES Björler brothers and Metal's new generation axe-man extraordinaire, Jensen must have heavy expectations put upon them. THE HAUNTED stormed out of the gates in 1998 with their stellar self-titled debut and their year 2000 sophomore release iced that thrash cake with a new vocalist and a big heap of more-of-the-same. That brings us to their latest opus "One Kill Wonder" and I for one am sad to say it just didn't measure up to expectations or past efforts.
Now, now my friends don't get me wrong here. "One Kill Wonder" is a good CD. That's the problem though. It is just that, good. It brings forth thirty-eight minutes of bruising, bashing Swedish Thrash like one expects from them but I just find it a lot less memorable than their previous works. It took me many listens to decide if my initial feelings were right and my final revelation about what this HAUNTED CD lacks is intense, blow-your-socks-off riffs. Yeah, obviously the riffs are there but they are not riffalicious or rifftastic as I have come to expect from them. Usually anything Jensen touches is considered guitar genius. Man, he's the Angus Young of Thrash to me. Here it just isn't quite there and it makes me more than a little sad.
Sure the production and playing is up to snuff but not a crowning achievement doth that make. There are a few pretty wicked tracks but not all qualify. "Godpuppet" and "Shadow World" are crushing and offer up some great lyrics and choruses. There are hints of the guitar I am looking for in "D.O.A" and the song it self is pretty cool. I can't say I get much out of either instrumental…so gotta count them as filler to be honest. Most of the rest is adequate or just above average Swedish Thrash…not a lot more.
THE HAUNTED are constantly compared to SLAYER and I don't normally want do that for a number of reasons. First, I think they are much better than SLAYER. Second, I think Mark Aro has a great voice…Tom Araya does not. Third, I dislike a lot more SLAYER than I like. So do I understand the comparisons? Sure do. Does it matter? Hell no. SLAYER has some amazing CDs that we all love and respect but they also have some material that does not quite measure up. Now, THE HAUNTED do as well. (Online October 16, 2003)