Many of today's young metalheads got started with Metallica's Load and Reload albums. We realized the band's style had changed since the classic records, but the songs were good B and what was the big deal? You can't play the same stuff for 20 years.
Well, now it's our turn to experience a major sellout firsthand. The Haunted's The Dead Eye is great, but it's a transparent stab for fans of Shadows Fall and Lamb of God. Those are both great bands, but true fans of The Haunted don't buy records to hear Pete Dolving croon about how "She was a little girl and I was only just learning to crawl / I would call her name to see her beautiful eyes glow."
We buy Haunted records to hear all-out thrash topped with Dolving's paranoid, scream-till-you're-hoarse, "we fC 'till it bleeds" rip-your-throat-out vocals. In the past Dolving has sounded disturbing even while working in melody B remember the gently sung "Come a little bit closer / So I can see what you taste like" from rEVOLVEr's AAbysmal"?
The Dead Eye does provide some of what longtime fans are looking for. First single "The Medication" is superb, with angry lyrics and a little bit of swagger. And even though Dolving sings the chorus to AThe Prosecution," the lyrics AForgive my lack of empathy / Oh, I just love watching you bleed" keep the track true to the band's roots. AThe Shifter" and AThe Stain" could easily have been on rEVOLVEr.
There are some serious misfires, though. The melodic vocals can sound extremely processed B it wouldn't be out of line to check whether Maynard James Keenan guested on the bridge of "The Drowning," even though Dolving and Keenan have never sounded remotely alike before. And the verses to "The Reflection" sound ripped from a modern rock ballad.
The outro to "The Fallout" sounds equally out of place, with the guitars and vocals dropping out to leave only drums and keyboards.
Someone who's never heard The Haunted before would love The Dead Eye, as all the songs are well crafted and catchy. But the fans who anticipated the record - "it's gonna be loud and angry and it'll have a lotta screaming and I can't wait!" - will leave feeling betrayed.
Robert VerBruggen (http://robertsrationale.blogspot.com) is an apprentice editor at The National Interest in Washington, DC and an antiMusic contributor.