HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

The Haunted - One Kill Wonder

For a fleeting minute there I was a little ticked off that the best songs on this album were the two instrumentals (Demon Eyes should be some radio show's theme song). But then quickly, the record leapt to life, One Kill Wonder sonically frying my system with its perfect drum sound, its groove at these unsafe speeds, Marco's purely thrashy vocal attack. The sound is rougher, more crackly and live than that of The Haunted Made Me Do It, snapping this band back to a purity perhaps wistfully pined for amongst things like The Crown or Carnal Forge or old Soilwork. And the riffs, oy vey, the way they weave, build, complement each other, slice, stab the spaces then recoil... it's all further grist (as if any more were needed) for calling Sweden the Iommi of countries. Could have used a few more slow ones, although my favourite on the album is a pretty speedy number called Shithead, followed closely, granted, by the atmospheric and textured 'Bloodletting'. Marks off for brevity at 38 minutes, although I know, I know... "You can't take much more that that! You need a break!" to which I answer, the logical conclusion is, why not spare us any grief whatsoever and just send out blank CDs?
Rating 8.5

Poisonblack - Escapextacy
(Century Media)

Cleaner and grander than Sentenced, Poisonblack, featuring that band's Ville Laihiala on guitar and NOT vocals, is perhaps closer to the plush gothic 4/4 mass of fellow Finns Rapture. Slow, mournful and perfectly produced, this really is some sort of commercial version of all those selfsame Sentenced characteristics, with vocalist J.P. Leppaluoto (from Charon) being, ahem, a bit more precise and sonorous than Ville - no confidence issues with Laihiala I guess. Lyrically, Ville is writing more about sex, lust, fantasy, death, the man being of the opinion that Sentenced's content is more about real life. Whatever the case, this is sorta like the genre's hair metal record, or its Black Album, simple, plodding, very melodic, not much in the arrangement department. I prefer the heady hooks of Rapture or indeed, the grit and tension within Sentenced.
Rating 7

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