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:: Spotlight :: Interview with The Haunted

By: Justin Donnelly

When Swedish melodic death metal/post-thrash outfit The Haunted released their fifth studio album ‘The Dead Eye’ in 2006, it took many by surprise. Instead of reproducing more of what the band had delivered in the past, The Haunted (who comprise of vocalist Peter Dolving, guitarists Patrik Jensen and Anders Björler, bassist Jonas Björler and drummer Per Möller Jensen) instead decided to experiment, with the album boasting a darker, mid-tempo and more atmospheric approach to their sound. Despite receiving mixed reviews upon release, ‘The Dead Eye’ proved that The Haunted were willing to try something new and push the envelope of experimentation beyond fan’s expectations.

Two years on and The Haunted are back with their sixth album release ‘Versus’. With the album having just hit the shelves, and the band about to undertake another tour down here in Australia, I caught up with vocalist (b]Peter Dolving[/b] at home in Sweden to talk about the new album, and the positives responses to the band’s return to their classic sound.

“Everyone who likes gothic metal, make-up and vampirism will obviously hate us of course! (Laughs) But seriously, we’re getting pretty mixed opinions about the new album. But that’s cool. I think that’s a really good thing. I mean, there was like a horrendous review in Terrorizer Magazine. At first I was a little taken aback, but then I realised that the author was out of the loop and that he had no clue. Because of that, it really didn’t matter in the end. I understand that ‘Versus’ is an album that you’ll dig and get into if you’re into The Haunted. But if you’re not into the band, don’t really know a lot about the band and you’re really opinionated, then this is one of those albums that you can really get into and dissect and throw shit at! (Laughs) I think it’s definitely a rock out and confronting kind of an album. And that’s something that we’re really happy with. That’s kind of the point of the album.”

While some fans may be a little cautious about the direction of ‘Versus’, they needn’t be worried as the album sounds like a mix of ‘rEVOLVEr’ (2004) and ‘The Dead Eye’, along with a couple of new surprises thrown into the mix.

“I think we tried to write a mixture of songs with all the stuff that we think is cool, that we like to play and that we really enjoy hearing. I think it also grew out of touring, as well. When we started talking about making this album about a year and a half ago, the conversations really revolved around talking about all the good things that we liked each other doing. So it was like, ‘You know when you do that thing when you play that kind of riff, I really like that!’ I mean we’re family, as well as friends. We spend more time together than we do with our other families! (Laughs) So as the conversations progressed, we started asking ourselves why we play the songs we do? Why do we play particular songs over and over again? In the end, it turned out to be certain things that we really enjoy, and it was those things that we wanted to get better at and see evolve from what we originally did. And I think musically, that’s where this album really takes off.”

With a renewed focus on what they wanted to achieve from a song writing point of view, the band headed into the studio to lay down ‘Versus’. And it was this clear idea of what they were setting out to achieve that allowed the recording sessions for ‘Versus’ to be the band’s quickest and most stress free to date.

“We had the album written well before we started recording it, and that says a lot. I mean we put a lot of work into this one ahead of time. We made sure that we had the album thoroughly rehearsed before we headed into the studio. We had it so down, that it took us like eight days to put the album together. We virtually recorded like a couple of tracks a day. On top of that, Anders Björler did some solos, and then I put the vocals down. That took an extra five or six days, or something like that. So it was a very quick and laid back recording process really. Overall, ‘Versus’ was easily the easiest album we’ve ever recorded.”

As you would expect, ‘Versus’ contains its fair share of classic thrash anthems that have become a trademark of The Haunted, but perhaps one of the most striking is the album’s opening track ‘Moronic Colossus’, which is full of Dolving’s biting lyricisms.

“I think lyrically, that song is more about an attitude, rather than aiming at any one particular person. I could write down a list of thousands of people that I could relate that song to. I quite literally used to have a black book man! (Laughs) I’m seriously not kidding you! But it’s way beyond that. We could all be the moronic colossus at times. More than anything, I think it’s really about an attitude. It’s that attitude of ignorance that’s kind of absorbed all of our culture. It seems to be okay to be a f**king idiot! It’s seems to be okay to project this redneck, macho, bulls**t kind of persona. It’s not even macho. It’s more this icky kind of surface crap that we portray to others, and that mindset that thinks its okay being a moron just for the sake of being a moron. It’s about trivialising human beings, and defending that kind of s**t. People are vigilant about it. It’s tooth and nail. They think it’s their right to be a f**king idiot! (Laughs) What I say is f**k them, and f**k the attitude! Because in the end, when it comes down to it, if you’re on a one to one basis with someone, face to face, people are not that stupid. People are not morons, or idiots. But a lot of the time, we choose to be morons, and that’s really sad.”

As mentioned earlier, ‘Versus’ still retains some of the band’s experimental feel of ‘The Dead Eye’, particularly in the moody and strange sounding ‘Skuld’.

“That song is more of an emotive interlude. Okay, let me put my pretentious hat on for a moment! {Laughs) ‘Skuld’ is a Swedish word that means guilt. There’s kind of a Swedish folk song that is called something along the lines of ‘Consolation Song’. It’s a song that you sing to someone who’s really sad or heartbroken, or a child that can’t sleep. We’re not a very Christian country, even though the church is really big here. Profane music has always been very strong, and that has helped keep traditions here in Sweden alive and really strong. We’ve never had the really strong Catholic world here either. But we’ve always had our own ways of dealing with pain and shame. In other words, we don’t need a priest to tell us! (Laughs) It’s O.K.; we’ll take care of each other. That’s kind of the idea of where that song came from. It’s sort of saying that it’s O.K. to allow the weight to come off your shoulders, so that you no longer have to carry the burden. It’s a way of moving on once it’s gone.”

With three truly diverse and stunning releases under their belt, The Haunted is well and truly on the top of their game. But while it’s clear that The Haunted have always been together in a musical sense, Dolving admits that it’s only now that the band is united in their drive to take The Haunted toward the future.

“There’s a good feeling within the band right now. It’s good. The At The Gates reunion road tour was really good for the band. Initially, it sucked ass, especially financially because the Björler twins were going out on tour, and we weren’t! (Laugh) It initially started out as eight shows, and they ended up doing close to fifty. So for close to six months, the other three of us have been f**king poor! (Laughs) But it’s been so good to have the twins back. They needed to do that tour, because I think it gave them the chance to get At The Gates out of their system. It was really good to see them when they got back. It’s like they got to finish it, and in a good way, and they could finally move on with The Haunted.”

With the album just hitting the shelves, The Haunted is looking forward to taking to the road once again. And although the band has toured the world countless times before, Dolving says he can’t wait to get out on the road and visit Australia once more.

“So far, we’ve only done around ten days to two weeks worth of touring here in Scandinavia. We’ve had the last week and a half off. But on Monday, we head out on a plane and don’t get home until Christmas. One of our first stops on this tour is Australia, and that’s really, really sweet. We’ve been looking forward to it. We love touring Australia! Fans can expect to hear plenty of songs from the new album, along with a mixture of everything we’ve done before. That’s what we generally try to do. I mean, this is our sixth record, and we like to throw in a little bit from every album. It’ll probably be a lion's share from the last two albums. But we’ll play plenty of stuff from the previous albums too. We didn’t make it down to Australia while we were supporting ‘The Dead Eye’, but we’re coming back this time! We have a lot of new stuff to play to our fans, and we can’t wait to get down there and destroy!”

I would personally like to thank Peter Dolving for his generous time, and Andrew Haug at Century Media Records for making the interview possible.

For more information, visit

www.the-haunted.com