The Haunted - Warning Shots (Earache/Riot)

The Haunted come out blazing with both barrels: one loaded with classic studio cuts, the other with unreleased and rare tracks.

Spanning close to 15 years, Sweden's The Haunted have released six studio albums and one live album. Their label from 1998 to 2002, Earache Records, has compiled some of the best material from the first three albums and a bonus disc of rarities to give us Warning Shots.

Formed from the ashes of melodic death metal pioneers, At The Gates, The Haunted released their self-titled debut album, 1998's The Haunted. This is The Haunted at their most raw and abrasive stage with a bit more of a hardcore vibe: you can feel the aggression punching through the speakers in classic cuts such as In Vein, Hatesong and Chasm, vocalist Peter Dolving is like a bloody thirsty madman mixed with a rabid dog, and the guitar team of Anders Bjorler & Patrik Jensen playing as if an assailant has a gun to their collective heads, the rhythm section of bassist Jonas Bjorler and drummer Adrian Erlandsson is precise and straight to the point.

Following the departure of Dolving and Erlandsson, The Haunted gained two new members: vocalist Marco Aro and Danish drummer Per Moller Jensen. This lineup recorded 2000's The Haunted Made Me Do It & 2003's One Kill Wonder.

With Marco Aro's deeper growling vocals, The Haunted took on more of a death metal vein, and produced one of their classic anthems which is still a staple of the live set to this day and gets the pit going - Dark Intentions / Bury Your Dead. It is nearly four and a half minutes of pure, unbridled agression and intensity. It is truly the equivalent of a musical Red Bull.

The Haunted Made Me Do It is well represented by other classic cuts such as Trespass, Hollow Ground and Under The Surface. These tracks are a gateway between old school and new school Haunted, and really benifited from Per Moller Jensen joining the band. Jensen's drumwork breathed new life into The Haunted, and his feel, timing and overall excecution are often imitated but rarely duplicated.

Riding the sucess of The Haunted Made Me Do It, the Aro fronted lineup turned out 2003's One Kill Wonder, which is really where they found their sound. It features thicker guitar tones, heavier drum work - and Marco Aro finally found his own sound on this release as well. If this album was summed up in one track, it would be D.O.A. The eerie marching beat slams into one of the most punishing grooves with Aro screaming right in your face, Anders' lead work is absolutely insane, very reminiscent of Slayer's Jeff Hanneman. This track has also become somewhat of an anthem, especially live: the crowd goes absolutely nuts and it is awesome to hear them scream along "What more when you're dead on arrival?"

Cuts like Shadow World, One Kill Wonder, Everlasting and the classic Shithead (featuring Arch Enemy's Michael Amott on guest lead guitar) are crushingly heavy and have paved the way for many of today's melodic death metal bands from Scandinavia and abroad.

The great thing about Warning Shots is the bonus disc. It has all of the b-sides from the Earache days, including Japanese bonus tracks such as Eclipse, Creed, their cover of Candlemass's' Well Of Souls and a personal favourite of mine, Ritual. It also has some cuts from Live Rounds In Tokyo such as Choke Hold, Leech and Three Times.

One of the coolest parts of the disc is the old school demos and rehearsal clips from when The Haunted was still in its infant stages. Here's a bit of trivia for you: one of the early names considered for the band was Death and a Half Productions.

Since One Kill Wonder, Marco Aro sadly departed the band, paving the way for Peter Dolving to come home, The Haunted have been on fire ever since, releasing 3 albums to date on new label home Century Media - rEVOLVEr, The Dead Eye and Versus.

Some fans may see Earache cashing in on The Haunted's rising popularity, but when all is said and done, Warning Shots is an excellent representation of some of the Haunted's best work from 1998 to 2002. It is accessible for the casual fans and new fans, and it has enough rarities and b-sides to keep the hardcore fan (like myself) happy.

The Haunted's Warning Shots is out now on Earache/Riot.