The Haunted – Strength in Numbers

For how long has The Haunted been around again? No need to look it up on your phone, let’s just say the band is old enough to drink. And in those 21 years, the lads have remained very active with 8 albums in the can and number nine is upon us in Strength in Numbers (Century Media). At this point, headbangers know what they’re getting from this Swedish wrecking crew.

On Strength in Numbers The Haunted sure-as-shit don’t mess with the playbook. We get copious amounts of thrash and groove that have been coated in the signature Gothenburg melo-death aesthetic. And the Gothenburg sound makes itself known in the restless tempo of ‘Brute Force’ and the wicked riffs of ‘Tighten the Noose.’ The latter’s incessant storm of notes reminds us what All That Remains could have been if they lived up to the promise of This Darkened Heart.

Where Strength in Numbers loses steam is in the dependency on groove metal and burying its rhythm section way too deep in the mix. Any metalhead worth their salt speaks volumes on the exploits of drummer Adrian Erlandsson and bassist Jonas Björler, but have their performances reduced to the background. Enhancing Erlandsson’s double kicks on ‘The Fall’ could’ve elevated an already good jam to further heights.

Now on to the groove metal issue, or as I know it, not-fast thrash. First off, there are mid-tempo songs here that are absolutely killer. ‘This is the End’ picks up what Pantera was doing on ‘Becoming’ and ‘I’m Broken’ and gives it an HD re-release, while ‘Preachers of Death’ is an ever-tightening spiral of razor riffing. But for those moments we also must contend with ‘Spark’ and ‘Monument’ which drone on without aim or hooks. I guess I’m saying that the fast cuts on Strength in Numbers are so good that I wish we got more of them.

Minor flaws aside, we filthy metalheads get another solid outing from an always dependable Swedish act.