The Pitch: The 9th studio album from Swedish melodeath/groove metal band The Haunted via Century Media Records, Strength In Numbers is the much anticipated follow-up to 2014's popular Exit Wounds; an album that initiated Ola Englund on guitars and marked the return of Marco Aro on vocals and Adrian Erlandsson on drums for the first time in over a decade. FFO: At The Gates, Lamb of God, The Lurking Fear
What I Like: Damn, these guys have still got it. Keep in mind that I am writing this review as someone who hasn't listened to much The Haunted since 2004's Revolver. The band's change in vocalist and overall sound just wasn't for me, so I was quite pleased to welcome Marco back into the fold. And while Exit Wounds didn't blow me away, I agree that it was a change for the better and definitely added to my anticipation of Strength in Numbers.
The first thing I must say about this album is to stick around until track 4. The first few minutes are decent enough, but It's not until this point that the band truly finds their groove (no pun intended). Furthermore the middle of this record, beginning with the title track, forms a sharp pinnacle with its wicked Gothenburg guitar hooks and thrashy drums fused with a certain Lamb of God/Pantera Southern influence. This is The Haunted I know and love; the one that makes me recall many a drive blasting One Kill Wonder and ...Made Me Do It. Aro is consistently aggressive, especially on "Tighten the Noose" and "Means to an End," even if the lyrics backing his punctuated snarls aren't always as strong as his delivery. Other tracks of note include "This Is The End," which has a slower, groovier Meshuggah feel to it, as well as "Preachers Of Death" and "Monuments" which both have melodic flairs that call back to the early days of At The Gates and In Flames.
Critiques: Again, the first few tracks on Strength in Numbers are pretty average. It's important to kick off your album on a high note if you really want to get the listener invested. In this respect, I feel that The Haunted have missed the bus, and I fear that today's ADHD generation may miss out on some really great stuff if they don't get to the deeper cuts. Even the lead single, "Spark," is a little underwhelming in my opinion.
The Verdict: Strength in Numbers taks a few minutes to build up steam, but once it does you can expect this locomotive to barrel ever forwards like its starring in Snowpiercer. The Haunted still have some of that old, early 2000's magic left in them, and I am always happy to get even a taste of it these days. Pick this album up today from all of your favorite venders.
Flight's Fav's: Strength in Numbers, Tighten the Noose, This is the End
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