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The Haunted 

One Kill Wonder (Earache)

Let's cut to the chase here: There was a Swedish death-metal band called At the Gates, right? They made a couple of albums and got nominated for a Swedish Grammy and they toured a whole lot, and their singer raw-throat-shrieked his way through life in a slightly more rhythmic variant of the death-metal style while their guitarist was busy cranking out riffs like widgets off an assembly line. OK. They broke up, because all good bands except for the Rolling Stones have to break up, and even the Rolling Stones should have broken up after Some Girls anyhow but that's another story. Whatever. The guitarist and bassist from At the Gates formed a new band called the Haunted, which released a couple of albums to general Swedish acclaim and total silence stateside, which brings us right up to the present day.

The Haunted have a new album out, which you also probably haven't heard about, on account of the way that the smaller metal peddlers don't have much access to the press and don't have any access at all to radio, right? That's OK. That's what we're here for. To get a line on what One Kill Wonder sounds like, just recall all that by-committee "metal" that was getting lots of play last year before everything suddenly vanished into a steamy haze of Avril Lavigne and 50 Cent, and then imagine that it was good.

Too hard? All right, then, try this: Think about AC/DC. Remember how they used to put the fear of God into televangelists? And how, when you listened to them, you could see where the televangelists were coming from: how there was something sweet and seductive and real dirty in the way AC/DC sucked you in with their basic blues progressions layered over relentless snare-crash and cymbals? Right. Speed all that up just enough to shake the fratboys off the back of the truck, and you've got the Haunted. Each song here has about ten riffs, three twin-guitar solos, 30 gallons of pedal distortion and one hell of a lot of screaming. No one knows what the guy from the Haunted is screaming about, and that's OK. It's fantastic rock & roll, and it's just abrasive enough to keep the record-buying public at bay -- which is OK, too, because we're tired of settling for the lowest-common-denominator gunk that the Big Three keep throwing at us, and we'd much rather listen to music that sounds like prime Thin Lizzy being attacked by some psycho with a lawnmower somewhere just north of Gothenburg.

Wouldn't we?

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More by John Darnielle

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September 23, 2020

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