As “Preachers of Death” kicks in with its Slayer-on-Steroids gnashing bite of a riff, syncopated death march cymbal work and Marco Aro’s revered demonic bray, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that The Haunted are back. There’s a bit of a journey to get there though, as convincing thrasher “Brute Force” aside, Swedish thrash legends The Haunted’s new LP “Strength In Numbers” gets off to a bit of a meandering start, credible melodic death metal for sure, but somewhat lacking that mile wide mean streak and maniacal break neck velocity that made 2000’s “The Haunted Made Me Do It” an undeniable masterpiece.
From the buzzsaw attack of “Means To An End” to the galloping outro of “The Fall”, “Strength In Numbers” is The Haunted through and through, but nowhere more so than on “Tighten The Noose”, a certified modern thrash classic, with a foreboding, descending bridge and a trademark motormouthed Marco Aro dressing down in the chorus. “This Is The End” even breaks from the formula to great effect, with a slinking, stretching riff and esoteric, almost jazz inflected double bass work from Erlandsson.
If anything sonically separates this iteration of The Haunted from the classic “Made Me Do It” / “One Kill Wonder” era (don’t fucking talk to me about Peter Dolving), it’s the lack of any scathing, scorching sub two minute bangers like “Revelation” or “Godpuppet“, making me think that a few of these tracks could use some editing. But that’s just a personal preference, if a record’s greatest sin is not being as good as “The Haunted Made Me Do It” then it doesn’t have much to be ashamed of, and “Strength In Numbers” is not only a solid entry into the Haunted canon in its own right, but a great excuse to get these dudes back onstage together.