Released: 2011, Century Media
Before I even start nit-picking at the details of The Haunted's seventh record, a word of warning: the rumors you may have heard about their latest opus being more Hellyeah than HELL AWAITS are all true. Whether borne from a desire to shun the Slayer comparisons once and for all, or simply the end-result of being in essentially the same game for too long, there are moments on UNSEEN where you genuinely feel as though you're knee-deep in one of the biggest creative left turns since Metallica shocked and appalled with LOAD.
That said - personally, I've never been quite as harsh as some on bands taking a stab at something new. As it is, I may be one of literally tens of Paradise Lost fans who thought that HOST wasn't a complete piss-take. Heck, I even like a couple of tunes off LOAD, as it happens. The musical pedigree at the core of The Haunted's new joint dictates at least a minimum quality level, and among the twelve new tracks on offer, there are a couple of real barnstormers. "Never Better" starts us off in exactly the way a more experimental Haunted record might be expected to; there's a tip of the hat to the breakneck riffing of old, broken up by a stunning chorus-line that brings to mind the tortured croon of Layne Staley. "Catch 22" is a mid-tempo melee, benefiting as much from a neck-snapping riff as a train of infectious hooks that come at you in rapid succession.
Still, there's no masking that UNSEEN is a decidedly patchy - at times even piss-poor - piece of work, when held to the band's earlier benchmarks. Reaching its nadir on "Them", there's a palpable feeling on more than one occasion that The Haunted have grown desperate to share commercial airwaves with their buddies in Funeral For A Friend. Whether this is true or not, the backlash from fans will be fierce. In turn, you can expect particularly the outspoken Peter Dolving to retort with more vitriol than ever - an irony given the often glaring absence thereof on this record.