THE HAUNTED seem to be struggling with what it means to be a grown-up thrash band. They've moved on from the gleeful SLAYER-in-a-blender of their early work to a more mid-paced, muscled down verse-chorus-verse crunch, weighty and darkly melodic but still heavy as hell. This sonic shift, which began on "rEVOLVEr" and was finely honed on 2006's "The Dead Eye", now seems stuck on autopilot, unfortunately — "Versus" seems like more of the same, only less inspired and even a bit plodding.Peter Dolving's therapy-sessions-as-lyrics are a nice break from the usual metal topics, but it's getting trite to hear him use his reedy croon, as he does at the beginning of "Iron Mask", to lambaste someone before launching into his wild-eyed shriek. THE HAUNTED just seem to run out of steam more often than not on their slow-to-midtempo songs, like this one, "Pieces" and "Rivers Run" — all the melodic elements are there, but nothing grabs the listener, either in terms of catchiness or in outright energy. There's nothing to some of these songs, particularly at the end — "Faultline" is a coupla boring riffs and a monotonous performance by Dolving, and it's utter filler until it gets to the tacked on thrash midsection and the band at least wakes up. Everyone gets blasé once in a while, but we're talking about two of the best riffmakers in modern metal and an inventive, distinctive heavy singer — when the dead-average "Moronic Colossus" is the most memorable thing on the whole album, something's wrong. It's not that the band has to be thrashy, or stick to a formula, to be successful – both "rEVOLVEr" and "The Dead Eye" had moments of greatness, though it could be argued that the band hasn't truly knocked one out of the park since 2000. "Versus", though, really seems stuck in a rut, perhaps knocked out too quickly between AT THE GATES reunion rehearsals, or given too little time to marinate by a band in the throes of a dry spell. Whatever the reason, it's a creative low point for THE HAUNTED, and with so much better metal coming out, it's just too generic to have staying power.
To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends). To report any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, please send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details.