?Come a Little Bit Closer??
The Haunted on tour with
Damageplan and Shadows Fall
11/3/04-Worcester Palladium, Massachusetts
12/3/04-Irving Plaza, New York City
12/4/04-Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, New Jersey.
Report by MetalGeorge
Writing this article on The Haunted?s recent US jaunt has been a difficult affair for me. Namely, how to approach it. Should I gloss over the fact that merely days after the finale of this tour, Damageplan?s Dimebag Darrell was senselessly gunned down by a crazed fan? Should I offer further sensationalism by making continued reference to it? In the end, I decided to remain true to my original focus, and report on The Haunted, with knowledge that Dimebag is probably jamming away in Valhalla, with fond memories of onstage and backstage antics with these crazy Swedes whom he?d so obviously influenced and inspired.
With no local opening acts, The Haunted took the stage first every night and played the same set, punishing and bruising with no remorse. Amidst an imposingly creepy backdrop of their newest lp, the mighty ?rEVOLVEr?, the intro tape begins ominously in the background. This was the night I?d been waiting for: the live return of The Haunted?s original and ONLY vocalist, the inimitable Peter Dolving. Then, as the tribal beats of the intro tape build up to a glorious crescendo, the band slowly takes the stage?
Then, with the force of a double barrel 12 gauge, they launch into album opener ?No Compromise?, and Dolving himself tears into the microphone and the crowd with a seething energy that is infectious. The crowd and I respond in kind, thrusting forward and crushing ourselves into the barricade. Banging our heads and our fists, we are soldiers under Dolving?s command; marching into certain death just for one more of those trademark riffs that only The Haunted can give us.
We are given just that as the band, not missing a beat, continue with the punishing intro riff to ?D.O.A.?, off of their ?One Kill Wonder? lp. It is total chaos at the front of the stage; I am being pushed up against the guard rail by what seems like hundreds of sweaty, thrashing bodies, and I?m loving every second of it. Soon enough, I?m drawn back into the mosh pit by the thunderous twin terror of ?Dark Intentions/Bury Your Dead?, and a violent circle pit erupts. Again, I?m loving life.
At this point, Dolving addresses the crowd for the first time, thanking everyone for coming out before introducing more new material in the form of ?rEVOLVEr? tracks ?99? and ?All Against All?. This particular song also happens to be the band?s first video for the album, and if you?ve had the chance to catch the clip, then I?m sure you know exactly what happened next. It only takes Peter?s initial, ?shut your fucking mouth/you don?t know a single thing about me? to turn the crowd into a pack of rabid, snarling dogs, begging for every command of Mr. Dolving?s.
As bassist Jonas Bjorer provides backing death vocals to Dolving?s psychotic ravings, we pile upon each other and scream out every single lyric back at the band. With ?Broken promises/like ashes through my fingers??we pound our fists and bang our heads. ?Perhaps I?ve said too much/ I just want somebody I can trust??we scream until our throats are raw and bleeding, until our voices are all but shot. The only words we can utter is, ?THE HAUNTED?.
As if sensing our desperate need for a respite, the band decides to slow things down a bit with another track from ?rEVOLVEr?, the dark and brooding ?Abysmal?. As well as providing a bit of much needed rest for us thrashing maniacs in the audience, it also provides Dolving with a chance to showcase his impressive clean singing ability. When he croons, ?come a little bit closer/so I can see what you taste like?, it is clearly evident that this isn?t the same group of individuals who wrote their self-titled debut back in 1998.
No, this is a whole new, demented animal; one that ?fucks ?till it bleeds?, and whose slower, methodical moments are just as deadly as their fast and rabid attacks. Texture, mood, and songwriting have been elevated to a whole new level, and ?Abysmal? certainly shows that, especially in the live situation.
However, this is a band who has always prided themselves on their quick and primal aggression, and it only takes another detour into ?One Will Wonder? territory to show this. For with the, albeit surprising, inclusion of said album?s opening track, ?Godpuppet?, our throng of metalheads are once again whipped into a frenzy. Bouncing back and forth from one side of the moshpit to the other, it is obvious from the shit-eating grins on the band and Dolving?s faces that they are loving every bit of our response.
Another mid-paced tune, this time from 2000?s ?Made Me Do It? is aired (the Per M Jensen penned ?Hollow Ground?) before Peter takes the time again to address the crowd. Surprisingly enough, it is revealed that it is actually guitarist (and At the Gates legend) Anders Bjorler?s birthday on this night (11/23). Almost immediately, shouts of ?Blinded By Fear!? and ?Slaughter of the Soul!? are heard from the crowd, followed by my own unrelated yell of ?Bullet Hole!!?. Guitarist Jensen smirks and plays the opening bars of the song as a tease, before stopping to let Dolving continue. Needless to say, I?m a bit miffed. Motherfuckers better play it next time! :-)
Set-list nitpicks aside, it IS Anders? birthday, so a roadie brings out a birthday cake from off stage, and a group rendition of ?Happy Birthday? is sung by all, followed by a massive cake fight. Turns out these nice Swedish lads aren?t strangers to a little destruction after all, as evidenced by both this incident, as well as the set-ending/set-wrecking demolition which finished up the final tour stop in New Jersey.
However, one would need to pack some ?brass knuckles and a gallon of gasoline? to survive the real destruction which was about to ensue. For it was time for some classic, ollld shit to be aired, in the form of the back-to-back attack of ?Undead? and the all-time anthem, ?In Vein?. ?Do you know how it feels/starin? down the barrel of gun??, asks Dolving?and after the pummeling I took during those 6 and a half minutes (including a devastating blast to my nose which had me bleeding all over the place), I have to say I think I do.
Or do I? For the all time Haunted anthem still had yet to be played. Sure enough, the chants of ?Hate Song?Hate Song? began to get louder and louder, until the band could no longer restrain it any longer. Demanding that the crowd ?pledge your alliegance for two minutes of your lives for the United States of The Haunted?, the band pushes everyone in the audience into a frenzy as the immortal anthem begins.
Dolving jumps out maniacally into the audience, and for that moment, all is well with the world. He goes for the throat with every word, only stopping to hand the microphone off to some eager participant to join in, including myself. We latch on to him like a life preserver, screaming back cathartic words of anger and revenge. This is the true ?anthem of rebellion?, and a physical and mental expulsion that leaves everyone drained and content.
?and with that, it?s all over. A strange sense of calm and peace fills me, as I revel in the vicious, yet strangely serene onslaught I had just witnessed. The Haunted is a force one just HAS to be witnessed live, and with one of extreme music?s best frontmen, bar none, behind the microphone, they are truly ready to claim their throne as forerunner?s for the entire genre.
As he leaves the stage, a sweat-drenched Dolving tells the crowd that they will see us again in the Spring. If this tour was anything to judge their return by, we?d better invest in a mouth guard and some neckbraces NOW, and start counting the days. Somehow, I think when that time comes, Dimebag will be smilin? down from Valhalla, beer in hand, toasting his final touring mates as they keep his beloved Heavy Metal true.