The Haunted

support Dead Soul
author AP date 04/10/14 venue KB, Malmö, SWE

Still reeling from the previous night's festivities at Pumpehuset, I would be lying if I said I was anything else than dead tired when I embark on the short journey across the bridge to Malmö in Sweden with the intention of catching a metal band most important to me in their new incarnation making a long awaited comeback. I'm not sure what to expect; whether their Swedish fanbase will have been enraptured enough to sell the place out, or if the turnout will be cautiously small. But despite my pressing fatigue, it is not without a feeling considerable excitement that I purchase a beverage and take my position near the front of the stage to watch the evening's support band, Dead Soul.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest

Dead Soul

Given the nature of tonight's headlining act, not to mention the moniker borne by their countrymen chosen as support, it was only reasonable to assume they'd be shelving out some variant of death or thrash metal. Little did I know this could not be further from the truth, as Dead Soul's own adoption of the term industrial doom blues seems very fitting, their synth laced, dual drummed, dark rock not really finding any other definition during their 40-minute set. Their official line-up consists exclusively of vocalist Andreas Landelius, who sports a distinctly 70's visage, and synth player Anders Ristenstrand, who occasionally doubles on bass; but the duo is bolstered live by drummers Martin Hjertstedt & Ludvig Kennberg, and guitarists Niels Nielsen & Joakim Ekstrand for a faithful and human delivery of the music, which despite assuming a unique character, bears certain resemblances to the likes of Audrey Horne, Doctor Midnight & The Mercy Cult, and Sahg.

The trouble is, with the exception of the last song on their setlist, there is little to no variety - least of all in tempo - in Dead Soul's music, which rests comfortably within the slow and melancholy. It most interesting aspects stem from the presence of the two drummers, who both complement and supplement one another with a two-pronged, highly textured rhythmic foundation. Nielsen & Ekstrand, too, do their part in establishing a visual aesthetic in conjunction with impressive lighting (a red spotlight on Landelius; no spotlight on the rest of the band), but with Landelius' lofty, mournful baritone mixed so high and Ristenstrand's frosty synths occupying equally as much of the soundscape, the two axemen's contributions are difficult to hear at times, and as such, the fact that Landelius is a man of few moves, and of great indifference, it seems, persistently drags the overall quality of Dead Soul's performance toward the average.

6

The Haunted

Air raid sirens announce the arrival of the much missed Haunted some 20 minutes later, and following a convincing salvo of "317", "Cutting Teeth" and the classic "99", the group's 'new' vocalist Marco Aro tells us they too have missed, and looked forward to this evening dearly. Although the venue is less than packed, there is a mutual enthusiasm here, and anxious anticipation perhaps, for what these Gothenburg based legends have to offer now with four of the band's original members re-united (Aro himself, as well as drummer Adrian Erlandsson, bassist Jonas Björler & rhythm guitarist Patrik Jensen), and a brand new album, "Exit Wounds", in the bag, which looks more to the origins of the Haunted than to their Peter Dolving-era output for inspiration.

It is no surprise then, that the band's two most recent efforts, "Versus" and "Unseen", are completely absent in the setlist, with a mouthwatering mix of 1998 to 2006 forming the backbone of the evening's proceedings. "Trespass", off 2000's "Made Me Do It", burns with intensity, Aro clearly taking pleasure in revisiting music he co-wrote, while Dolving-era tracks like "The Flood" and "The Medication" attain an entirely new level of aggression through Aro's markedly more brutal style of growling. Granted, one does at times miss the boundless charisma of Dolving as a performer, not to mention his deranged, even psychotic way of screaming, singing and mumbling; but throughout the evening, Aro looks fired up and more than able to fill those shoes. My only gripe is that he seems hellbent on using the echo effect on his microphone at any and every opportunity, a technique which after initial usage becomes extremely tiring to behold. Erlandsson's sublime drumming, too, produces a constant element of allure, with his creative and often syncopated patterns in songs like "Trend Killer" - my favourite off the new album - and "Time (Will Not Heal)" showing why the man is held in such reverence by the metal community.

Despite the show being far from sold out, and aside from the initial reservedness, the audience soon joins the frey by instigating sizable pits during "Hollow Ground", "D.O.A." and the one-minute blast of rage, "My Enemy", among others; which only fuels the ferocity of the band before them. The Haunted have never been a band to look to for mental stage moves, but there is an unsettling brutality to the way each member carries himself; they look like they mean business. When fan favourite "All Against All" is aired, the place is boiling, and as Aro nails the clean vocal section in that song, I am once again reminded why this backstabbing anthem remains one of my favourite metal songs of all time, and certainly the best the Haunted have written in my book. Finishing with the punishing trio of classics in "Dark Intentions", "Bury Your Dead" and "Hate Song", the band returns for a brief encore of "Undead" as per the loud demands of the audience, setting a fine conclusion to a thoroughly acceptable comeback.

8

Setlist:

  • 317
  • Cutting Teeth
  • 99
  • Trespass
  • The Flood
  • The Medication
  • Hollow Ground
  • Trend Killer
  • D.O.A.
  • My Enemy
  • All Against All
  • Eye of the Storm
  • In Vein
  • No Compromise
  • Time (Will Not Heal)
  • The Guilt Trip
  • Dark Intentions
  • Bury Your Dead
  • Hate Song

--Encore--

  • Undead

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