Versus by The Haunted
Release date : September 2008
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
On April 1st, 2008, The Haunted entered Denmark's PUK Studio with producer Tue Madsen to begin recording the group's sixth studio full length, and spent ten days at that location. Several days after entering the studio, studio footage materialized. On April 16th, frontman Peter Dolving entered Gothenburg, Sweden's IF Studios (owned by members of In Flames) to begin recording vocals, and remained there until the 21st. Vocal problems blighted Dolving, so the mainman had to cut further vocals at Aarhus, Denmark's Antfarm Studio from the 26th to the 29th, where the mix was handled by Madsen. The Haunted performed at; the Rock festival in Copenhagen, Denmark on May 22nd, the Electric Weekend festival in Madrid, Spain on May 31st, the Hultsfred festival in Sweden during mid June, and at the Peace & Love festival in Borlänge, Sweden on June 27th. In mid July, the album's title was revealed to be Versus.
Three August dates saw The Haunted perform at several festivals, namely; Germany's Wacken Open Air on the 1st, Herning, Denmark's Herning Heavy Holocaust on the 8th, and Tel Aviv, Israel's Anthem festival on the 14th. During mid August, Versus' artwork was unveiled. Soon after, “Moronic Colossus” was made available for streaming via The Haunted's official MySpace page. On the August 17th edition of Indie 103.1 FM's specialty Metal program Chaos with Full Metal Jackie, material lifted from the album was premiered. Late in the month, an e-card and trailer in support of the record surfaced. From September 12th for a seven day period, the whole album was available for streaming via the outfit's MySpace page. That same week, six webisodes chronicling the songwriting and recording process for Versus materialized.
When a group has figured amongst a scene for as many years as The Haunted, nurturing growth and diversity through each subsequent album release proves quite a task. A brave endeavour, Versus' material reflects the outfit's intense live show. The act remains faithful to simplicity, and lets Extreme Metal's raw potency speak for itself. Versus doesn't actually deviate from the musical stylings which lie at the heart of The Haunted, but justifies why a group's studio material should illustrate live dynamism. Audibly impressive, Anders Björler and Patrik Jensen's dual attack boasts a heavy drive that is surprisingly crisp. Whether it be Hardcore power, hauntingly deep, or extremely emotional and clean, Peter Dolving cuts whichever vocal stylings he pleases. The Haunted bears a passion towards authoring crushing Metal, and Versus gloriously highlights this.
Groups usually concentrate upon precise production, as opposed to channelling live dynamism into a full length's sonics. The Haunted concentrate upon channelling that live dynamism however, and what isn't there to like about such an outfit? “Moronic Colossus”' upbeat Hardcore stylings inaugurate Versus, the album immediately launching into action. Boasting a nice swagger, the vocals during its opening moments are delivered so swiftly that the lyrics tend to bind together. Towards its conclusion however, the vocals descend into a warm, gradual build up. In most instances, The Haunted doesn't seemingly opt in favour of Extreme Metal ingredients until roughly midway through Versus, arriving in the form of “Ceremony”. Adhering to a raw, genuine ambience, the number begins courtesy of a barely audible drum click which morphs into a guitar riff, and this guitar riff abruptly concludes as though it was incorrectly timed. At maximum volume, the guitar riff begins once again, inaugurated via an “aaargh” from drummer Per Moller Jensen. Dolving utilizes deep, emotional and potent vocals upon the groovier “Rivers Run”, a track where guitars grind in heavy unison within the background. Crushingly final blows, “Faultline” and “Imperial Death March” conclude Versus upon a heavier note than the album actually begins. Essentially, both numbers possess the album's collective components. Midway through “Faultline”, a shade of Thrash materializes even, encouraging even more interest.
Should you listen to Versus, you'll realise as to why The Haunted's live performance is great, and so much so that the act has garnered several high profile touring slots. The group has enough confidence in their material and performance ability to return towards a simple recording approach, and take a gamble. For that, this reviewer applauds The Haunted. In their own right, Versus' initial tracks are great, but the record's genuine brutality surfaces upon “Trenches”, and remains until the album's conclusion. Don't give heed to the false impression that Versus' raw and simple nature means that the album is subpar, as this couldn't be further from the truth. Should you be in search of Metal material which encompasses Hardcore, Power, Thrash and Extreme, then search no further than Versus.