"The Haunted Made Me Do It," the second album from this Swedish quintet, was a high watermark for European metal. For it was on that album that The Haunted completely shed the trappings of the "Gothenburg" metal scene (that peculiar blend of hard-rock pomp and death-metal intensity) and mapped out a brash course of their own that owed as much to the California metal scene of the late '80s as it did to recent hybrids of hardcore and metal. More than two years later, "One Kill Wonder" exceeds its predecessor's expectations by reveling in a purely "Haunted-style" of metal, one that picks up the gauntlet Slayer carelessly dropped as kings of aggression. Ruthlessly tight and shockingly heavy, "One Kill Wonder" ratchets up the group's attack once again, with drumming that's as groove-oriented as it is fast, and a thickly precise guitar assault. Vocalist Marco Aro again lets his voice slide into the instrumental mix and, though more intelligible than many of his European counterparts, he still generates a viciousness that's more about vibe than about lyrical specifics. Tracks like the classically head-banging "Shadow World" and the furiously heavy "Bloodletting" show a band firmly in touch with their metal roots, yet obviously inspired by the post-hardcore shift in metal tactics.
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