The Haunted has always had the ability to straddle a few different genres within the heavy metal spectrum, particularly thrash and groove but with elements of hardcore and death snuck in here and there to bring a solid musical balance.
Easing you into the coming fray instrumental opener ‘Fill the Darkness with Black’ immediately shows off the great melody the band is capable of before thrasher ‘Brute Force’ comes storming from said blackness. Now here is where the band grabs your attention and holds it for the rest of the album, going from thrash ragers like this to the hardcore tinged title track to the more melodic ‘This is the End’ or ‘The Fall’ and its staunch mix of every element that The Haunted do so well.
Every track has the right hooks either vocally, percussively or musically without covering the same ground twice. Going from ‘Spark’ and its heavy thrash groove with great solos to the death/thrash of neck snapper (pardon the pun) ‘Tighten the Noose’ all the while holding onto the ear drums and forcing you to bang your head.
The special edition has the extra tracks ‘Illusions’ and ‘Sinister’ that fit into the album well, the latter another great album closer with The Haunted trying something a little different as Marco sounds like a very mentally disturbed person barely hanging on the edge of his sanity.
On the whole Strength in Numbers is the sound of a band gelling and all reading from the same dark hymnal. Everyone carries their respective duties out without fault, thanks to great production and engineering from British producer Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Lock Up, Dimmu Borgir) allowing every instrument to be heard at its pummelling best. Just listen to the middle section of the title track for some great galloping bass riffs while the purity of the drum sound throughout will have you air drumming every time you listen. Vocally Marco Aro has never been one to change up from his heavy vocal rasp, but the lyrics carry great hook lines to keep you screaming along.
Over all this has to be in the top ten albums for 2017 right now. While I’m well aware that I have said that a bit this year, I promise you this will bore its way into your little black heart and find a comfortable place there for the next while. Its hooks are that great.
1. Fill the Darkness With Black
2. Brute Force
4. Preachers of Death
5. Strength in Numbers
6. Tighten the Noose
7. The is the End
8. The Fall
9. Means to an End