Sound — 6
The Haunted were formed in 1996 when their previous band, At The Gates, split up. Part of the band reformed as The Haunted with a different musical direction. "Exit Wounds" will be the band's eighth full-length studio release, and shows them moving more into the realm of hard rock from their earlier melodic death metal sound. The album contains 14 tracks and has an approximate runtime of 44 minutes. Pete Dolvrig, Anders Björler, and Per Möller Jensen all recently left the band and were replaced, respectively, by: Marco Aro, Ola Englund and Adrian Erlandsson. While Ola Englund is new to The Haunted, both Marco Aro and Adrian Erlandsson are previous members. Ola is fairly well known for his previous work with Six Feet Under, and his band, Feared.
The album opens with the track "317," which has a simulated heartbeat and slowly builds to a heavy guitar and drum part that make me wanna headbang in slow motion, though it really isn't much more than an intro to get you ready for the rest of the album. "Cutting Teeth" opens up with Marco releasing a guttural scream and stays intense till the very end. "My Salvation" is much more riff-centric and has loads of groove, which makes it easily one of my favorite tracks from the album. "Psychonaut" is a fast tempo and aggressive track, with the unforgettable line "we're so alike that it makes me sick." "Eye of the Storm" has a pretty crazy groove to it - it reminds me a lot, musically, of bands like Slough Feg or The Sword, but of course with Marco Aro's vocals. The track "Trend Killer" has two guests - Jed Simon (of Strapping Young Lad and Scar The Martyr) on lead guitar and has Chuck Billy (from Testament) providing some of the track vocals. "Time (Will Not Heal)" is another fun track on the album, being pretty much a straight forward hard rock song for the most part. "All I Have" got on my nerves pretty quick, with the song attempting to use a squealing pinch harmonic as the hook. "Temptation" has some triplets/galloping and a creepy melody, which I the closest they've gotten to death metal in a while with this track list. "My Enemy" opens up with a lot of intensity, bringing to mind more of The Haunted's earlier material. "Kill the Light" is, in all fairness, a fairly decent "melodic death metal" track, if a little timid. "This War" is a little bit too rough to be called hard rock, but not really in the category of death metal, either. It does, however, have one of my favorite melodies from the album. "Infiltrator" immediately comes out with a really powerful riff, which repeats through much of the track. The album closes out with the track, "Ghost in the Machine," which definitely has a strong groove to it. "Ghost in the Machine" also has, by far, the best guitar solo from the album. Overall, the album is not bad, but it is too "lukewarm" for me too feel strongly about in any kind of way.
Lyrics — 8
Marco Aro provides vocals, which consist of growls which are mostly discernible as lyrics. I feel like he's done a great job on this album on providing the style and intensity of vocals that are the most ideal for this music. His execution was spot on, and the lyrical content is varied, though of course sticking with darker subjects or existentialist concepts. With lyrics spattered across the album like "I'm stuck in a life/ I'm almost sure I left behind/ I'm so hollow/ there's nothing left to find/ a perfect failure when I seek perfection/ just a fading shadow on the path of our extinction" from the track "Time (Will Not Heal)."
Overall Impression — 7
The Haunted, while at one point considered melodic death metal, is very similar to a lot of the hard rock on the radio, but maybe less formulaic. Some of the tracks definitely still reach into the realm of death metal, but only in the most arbitrary and predictable ways. For all intents and purposes, The Haunted show with "Exit Wounds" that they are much more into playing hard rock these days. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it possibly makes The Haunted stand out less than they would, otherwise. I do think that bringing Marco Aro back into the fold was a good call, and I found myself really enjoying a few songs, such as "Ghost in the Machine" and "Infiltrator."