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The Haunted - "Eye Of The Storm" (CD Single)

The Haunted - "Eye Of The Storm" CD Single cover image

"Eye Of The Storm" track listing:

1. Eye Of The Storm
2. Infiltrator
3. My Enemy

Reviewed by on January 29, 2014

"[The single] feels nothing short of miraculous."

Just a few short years ago, it would’ve seemed pretty damned wishful thinking to expect The Haunted to release anything resembling the feral days of old. 2004’s “rEVOLVEr” saw original frontman Peter Dolving rejoin the fold and steer the band in an unpredictable progressive direction that grew more divergent over time, making The Haunted yet another Swedish group to garner the In Flames-esque honor of a harshly fragmented fanbase.

The criticism culminated in 2011 with “Unseen,” a quirky, nuanced effort more atmospheric and textural than aggressive, which – despite its musical merits – provided a stark showcase of the band’s years-long drift from its bloodthirsty death/thrash beginnings. The metal world’s wet-fart response cast a sad, tragic light on the mounting personal and professional tensions within the lineup, which, in 2012, led to a mass exodus of longtime members. Gone were the acerbic Dolving, out to bitter pasture and an underground DIY music career spiked with the occasional colorful online rant; guitarist Anders Björler, free to focus on his reformed At The Gates; and drummer Per Möller Jensen, whereabouts unknown.

All this back story is essential because, at this point, The Haunted had virtually flat lined. Yet somehow, founding guitarist Patrick Jensen and bassist Jonas Björler [Anders’ twin brother] summoned the nerve and strength to soldier on and orchestrate a true creative rebirth. Original drummer Adrian Erlandsson [also of At The Gates] is back. Ola Englund [Six Feet Under] has filled Anders’ empty guitar slot. And Marco Aro, the shredded-throat leatherlung Finnish figurehead of the band’s savage “The Haunted Made Me Do It” [2000] and “One Kill Wonder” [2003] has reclaimed the microphone.

After so much turmoil and artistic confusion, one wouldn’t expect anything new to yield anything spectacular. One would be surprisingly, delightfully wrong. If appetizer “Eye Of The Storm” is any accurate indication of the main full-length course to come, one can safely surmise The Haunted’s impending redemption in the ears of many a metal head. And as individual songs, whether blasted together or on a shuffled playlist, all three simply slay. The meat grinding guitar tones of “One Kill Wonder” are back, deployed most effectively on the title track, which recalls ominous mid-tempo head bangers such as “Bloodletting.” The speedier “Infiltrator” evokes the more clinical precision and melodic death metal influences of “… Made Me Do It,” and the one-minute ripper “My Enemy” plays like a short but sweet, homage to Slayer, once considered The Haunted’s primary influence – At The Gates’ legacy notwithstanding. What’s more, few vocalists have perfected the Roaring Madman routine in as authentic and intimidating a fashion as Aro, who emerges back on top as the star of the show.

Amid the horn-throwing enthusiasm The Haunted’s new material is sure to stir among older school fans, let’s not forget the big picture here. The band’s more recent experimental output under Dolving’s influence, whether or not one likes it, is not to be dismissed. “Eye Of The Storm” and the next studio album should not be hailed as “what should’ve come after ‘One Kill Wonder.’” That cheapens and dilutes the special impact this revamped lineup brings, which, after all these meandering years, feels nothing short of miraculous. It’s the final connection that completes a decade-long circle.

Highs: All three songs reveal a band completely back on top of its game.

Lows: Give us the other ten tracks. Now.

Bottom line: After years of strange experimentation, strife, civil war, and reconstruction, one of Sweden's finest fires the opening shots in a deserved comeback.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)