The Haunted, ‘Strength in Numbers’ – Album Review
Prior to their previous album, 2014's Exit Wounds, Swedish veterans The Haunted underwent several lineup changes. However, instead of all new faces, those changes were bringing back former members Marco Aro (vocals) and Adrian Erlandsson (drums) along with new guitarist Ola Englund. While warmly welcomed by some, the disc received some less than positive response from others. Their latest album Strength in Numbers is their second with the current lineup.
It's safe to say that configuration has now jelled, plus they had more time to write and record Strength in Numbers, resulting in an album that's more potent with greater depth and consistency. It packs plenty of punch as well. After a brief opening instrumental, the pummeling begins with “Brute Force,” an apt title for a track that features punishing riffs and forceful drumming from Erlandsson.
The Haunted span a few different genres. They are able to ramp up the tempo to a thrash threshold on songs like the title track, but also dial back into mid-tempo groove metal, exemplified on songs such as “This Is the End.” Even though Aro's vocals are harsh throughout, there's no shortage of melody, putting them into melodic death metal territory in addition to the aforementioned styles.
Englund had a greater role in the songwriting this time around, and his performance with fellow axeman Patrik Jensen is more cohesive than the previous album. The two provide a lot of memorable riffs, varied tones and some shredding solos.
Production-wise, they worked with producer Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir). His experience with bands on both the brutal and melodic side of the metal and rock spectrum make him a good fit, as the Haunted are able to bring crushing heaviness along with catchy melodies.
In an era where albums seem to be getting longer and longer, the Haunted bring Strength in Numbers in at under 40 minutes. It's lean and mean, with no track longer than five minutes, and little to no filler. It ends on a strong note with the ominous “Monuments,” with a mellow fadeout that is the musical equivalent of walking into the sunset instead of slamming the door.
The Haunted show no signs of walking into the sunset, though. While some fans may prefer the Peter Dolving era of the band, the current lineup seem to have good chemistry and have regained their momentum.