The Haunted: rEVOLVEr

Adrien Begrand

The Haunted


Label: Century Media
US Release Date: 2004-10-19
UK Release Date: Available as import

As great as the fantasy of recording an album that becomes a timeless classic might sound to ambitious young musicians, it's got to be hell for those who do it at an early age, as such an album can grow to albatross-like proportions, weighing down on a band for the rest of their career. Look at what Operation: Mindcrime did to Queensrÿche, after all. At the Gates was such a band, as their 1995 album Slaughter of the Soul was one of the most important metal albums of the mid-'90s, proving to be hugely influential on today's metal bands (Arch Enemy, especially), but not long after that record came out, the band broke up, instantly elevating the album to lofty heights in the minds of metallers. Two guys from At the Gates, the twin Bjorler brothers, guitarist Anders and bassist Jonas, went on to form The Haunted, and to their credit, their new band has come close to stepping out of the shadow of that classic record, going on to become one of the more potent acts in contemporary metal, as their 1998 self-titled debut was one of that year's most acclaimed metal discs.

The Haunted's fourth album, the goofily-titled rEVOLVEr, has original Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving returning for the first time since the first album, and while it's the usual, well-executed, blue-collar exercise in metalcore and thrash fans have come to expect from The Haunted, it's Dolving's dominating presence that leaves the most indelible impression. The album, co-produced by Patrik J. Sten and Frederik Nordstrom, has a terrific sound to it, a grating, no-frills feel that, while perhaps lacking a bit in the bass department, captures the band's intensity most efficiently.

Trouble is, while such intensity is all well and good, unless the songs hold up, such channeled aggression can often amount to being much ado about little at all. As it happens, the simplicity of The Haunted's songwriting does tend to wear thin the longer the album goes on. However, rEVOLVEr manages to get off to a blazing start with the opener "No Compromise", which is pure thrash and speed, as Anders Bjorler and Patrik Jensen deliver tight, staccato riffs (and dig that breakdown mid-song), underscoring Dolving's authoritative bark, which sounds something between Meshuggah's Jens Kidman and Pantera's Phil Anselmo. "99" keeps things soaring, despite the been-there-done-that feel of the shout-along chorus. "Abysmal" is anything but, featuring excellent range by Dolving, as the rest of the band churns away in a good, midtempo Alice in Chains imitation, and "Sabotage" turns up the speed again, Per Jensen's drumming careening along, finding the perfect middle ground between chaos and precision.

First single "All Against All" is a good choice, as it boasts a great riff that hearkens back to '80s thrashers Anthrax and Exodus, but after the intense "Sweet Relief", the album loses its steam for about 15 minutes. The turgid "Burnt to a Shell" rings hollow, while "Who Will Decide", featuring Sick of it All's Lou Koller, is merely metalcore by numbers. Meanwhile, "Nothing Right" tries to regain the momentum, but simply lack the fire of the album's brilliant first half.

Not all is wasted, though; after the menacing "Liquid Burns", the CD's three bonus tracks save the album from being a complete wasted opportunity. "My Shadow", primarily, blows away most of the official album tracks, as the band shows great dexterity, moving from the somber to the intense, and possessing a phenomenal performance by Dolving, as he shows tremendous versatility, veering from a menacing growl, to gutwrenching screams, to some surprisingly good, melodic singing (his singing is so good, in fact, that we need to hear him do that a lot more often). rEVOLVEr is an admirable piece of work, and while The Haunted stumble on a few tracks, it still remains a better than average record. Ten good songs out of 13 isn't shabby at all, but fans will still be hungry for some more of the magic that the 1998 debut possessed.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.