Strength in Numbers, THE HAUNTED‘s latest offering faces the problems that most metal bands face at one point or another; you simply can’t go faster, or louder or heavier. While certainly a capable effort on its own, and far from the career low of Unseen, Strength in Numbers just never does quite enough to push beyond the envelope of doing exactly what you’d expect from THE HAUNTED.
It’s no surprise that the songs on Strength in Numbers are played with passion, talent and fervour – this isn’t the problem with this release. There’s just very little to distinguish this above the rest of THE HAUNTED‘s (very good) back catalogue. Brute Force might start with a satisfying enough roar out of the (totally unneeded) instrumental introduction but by the time Spark rolls around second it’s hard not to think that you’ve heard this playbook done before, and with much more passion.
Lyrically too Strength in Numbers stays firmly entrenched within metal’s comfort zone: Preachers of Death opening with lazy, half-baked analogies of walking tightropes between good and evil while Spark‘s writing seems to have been fuelled entirely by mid-000’s metalcore lyricists with the song being dominated by a “burn it down” refrain. Means to an End even includes the (unintentionally) hilarious line; “will someone take my demons for a walk.” Take the song titles too; Spark, The Fall and This is the End are all very familiar to someone who’s followed metal over the past decade. There’s seemingly a determination to simply resurrect the same old tired metal tropes for one more go on Strength in Numbers.
Nonetheless there are some distinguishing features: This is the End is a very satisfying change of pace from the frantic thrash of the rest of the album to a more mid-paced, sinister number. It’s a neat trick and one that helps bring some variety to Strength in Numbers when it is needed the most. Structure is Strength in Numbers greatest redeemer with the entire album clocking in at a fairly concise ten tracks over 38 minutes. Especially with the change of pace during This is the End and The Fall (yeah, we weren’t kidding about the clichéd titles.)
Strength in Numbers is not a drag to listen to. Especially for fans of THE HAUNTED this is sure to prove a nice diversion for a few listens and is a competently executed metal album all things considered. The problem is that competent simply isn’t good enough; there’s nothing to distinguish Strength in Numbers for positive or negative.
Strength In Numbers is out now via Century Media Records.
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