The Haunted - Strength In Numbers album review

A bold thrashin’ statement from Sweden’s fast-masters

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Given how frequently The Haunted have found themselves announcing the departure of one singer and the arrival of another, it’s impressive that the Swedes have survived for two decades and are still a band that most sensible metal fans hold in high esteem. Strength In Numbers seeks to cause a bigger splash than 2014’s Exit Wounds, the band’s first since the (second) departure of Peter Dolving and the return of Marco Aro, and plainly deserves to. That album felt slightly half-baked, as if making up for lost time blunted the band’s weaponry somewhat. In contrast, their ninth full-length is an object lesson in sustained fury and razor-sharp songwriting. Everything from the explosive Brute Force to the dark and ominous Monuments seems to showcase a subtly different blend of extreme metal styles from the more straightforward thrash attack that people generally associate with The Haunted, despite their numerous past detours. On the title track and This Is The End, a strong whiff of post-Pantera groove doesn’t seem remotely out of place and makes the impact of flat-out ragers like Tighten The Noose even more startling. Marco Aro’s voice maintains an all-important link to the gnarlier end of the hardcore scene on the scabrous likes of Spark and Means To An End, but this is still a record with one foot planted firmly in thrash. Some diehard fans may still pine for the stripped-back simplicity of that revered debut, but the outcome of this small evolutionary step is one of the band’s finest records to date.