[Editor’s note: The CD and “digital” versions of this album have somewhat divergent tracklists, and even slightly different titles, with the “digital” officially being The Haunted, while the CD is simply Haunted, no “the.” Why anyone thought that would be a good idea is open to discussion…]
I’ve quietly become a fan of Poland’s Demonic Slaughter. The main reason for this is that they sound like old Mayhem. Face it, the Mayhem of today doesn’t sound much like the band that produced De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas all those years ago. Every album after that has gotten progressively further and further away from their old sound, and if you really liked the whole Dead & Euronymous era of Mayhem as I did, you’ve progressively gotten more and more fed up with the band. Where you find that evil atmosphere and the demented vocal style that Attila used on De Mysteriis now is with bands like Demonic Slaughter, who took the torch and kept it lit. Even though Xaos Oblivion is involved in a bunch of other projects (including his own solo band), he still manages to keep the music of Demonic Slaugher dark and evil sounding. The Haunted starts off hard and heavy, with “Mystic Rites” pounding away with almost military precision drumming and riffs that get your head banging with the rhythm, musically channeling equal parts old Mayhem and early Darkthrone. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album, marching steadily along at a pace that keeps the dark and evil atmosphere intact while not getting monotonous. Even at higher speed ranges, such as on “Monks of Cold Mountains,” Demonic Slaughter manages to keep most of their dark and gloomy atmosphere intact, which is something that a lot of veteran bands have trouble doing. Their best work, though, is in the slower speed ranges where their heaviness and dark atmosphere can work most potently. If there is a detraction to the contents of this LP, it’s that Demonic Slaughter hasn’t progressed very much musically since their previous release, Downfall. If you’re looking for titanic shifts in songwriting and production, you’re going to be disappointed. Demonic Slaughter has evolved somewhat, but those changes are on the micro scale. Xaos Oblivion’s shift to the Attila-style vocals full-time has given the band a darker and more twisted sound, and while the music is still very similar to their previous works, they’ve tightened up and tweaked things a bit, too. How far they’ve progressed is debatable, but if you liked what you heard from them before, you’ll enjoy The Haunted. It’s solid, evil Black Metal with a dark atmosphere, and that’s what I look for when I want to listen to evil music.
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