Gig Reviews

Gig review: Swedish preachers of death The Haunted conquered Tokyo once more

The Haunted on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Caroline Misokane, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish death thrashers The Haunted once again made Tokyo do it with a splendid, brutal and sweaty show at Liquidroom.

The Haunted at Liquidroom, Ebisu, Tokyo, 26th January 2018

The Haunted on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Caroline Misokane, Roppongi Rocks

During the two decades that have passed since Swedish death thrashers The Haunted released their debut album, Japan has been a constant in their career. It was here in Japan they recorded the live album “Live Rounds in Tokyo” back in 2000 and they still have a loyal following here.

The current line-up of The Haunted is terrific and I hope it stays like this. The members are, however, all busy with other bands such as At the Gates, Witchery, The Lurking Fear and much more, so it can’t be too easy to plan for The Haunted’s touring and recording sessions. The Haunted’s brutal rock’n’roll machine is anchored with the rock solid At the Gates rhythm section of Adrian Erlandsson and Jonas Björler. Add to that two great and, I believe, very underrated guitarists – Patrik Jensen and Ola Englund – and you have a very good metal band. And then we still have frontman Marco Aro, who after a break of ten years, returned to the band in 2013. It seems as if he were born to front this band. He’s a perfect fit. And best of all, he so obviously is happy to be fronting this band. The Japanese audience’s affection for the band makes him somewhat emotional a couple of times during the show. It is a two-way brutal love affair between this Swedish extreme metal band and the Japanese metalheads in the audience.

The Haunted’s thrash guitars played over a death metal foundation make this different and better than many other extreme metal acts. Excellent Swedish death thrash, combining Bay Area thrash with the Gothenburg sound.

The Haunted on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Caroline Misokane, Roppongi Rocks

With the fab new studio album “Strength in Numbers” released just a few months ago, the band has quite a treasure trove of songs to choose from when they put together their set lists. This evening in Tokyo we get a terrific set list with material from throughout the band’s career and representing most of the band’s nine studio albums.

We get no fewer than five songs from the latest album, including the splendid “Preachers of Death”, “Spark” and “This is the End”, in addition to the two songs that open both the latest album and this evening’s show: the instrumental intro “Fill the Darkness with Black” (ain’t that poetry, then I don’t know what is!) and “Brutal Force”.

From the “Revolver” album we get  “99”, “No Compromise” and “All Against All”. From “The Haunted Made Me Do It” we get “Bury Your Dead”, “Trespass”, “Hollow Ground” and “Dark Intentions”. Additionally, we get “D.O.A.“ from “One Kill Wonder” and we get “The Flood”, “The Medication” and “The Guilt Trip” from “The Dead Eye”. From “Exit Wounds” we get treated to “Eye of the Storm”, “Trend Killer” and “Time (Will Not Heal)”, while from the band’s self-titled 1998 debut album we get “Hate Song” and “Bullet Hole”. What else could one ask for? This is as close to the ultimate The Haunted set list one can get.

The Haunted on stage in Tokyo. Photo: Caroline Misokane, Roppongi Rocks

The energetic Japanese audience is with the band the whole time from before they enter the stage until well after they have left it. They’re so into the performance that Marco Aro several times become lost for words. He is clearly overwhelmed by the love from The Haunted’s Japanese fans who not only sing along and headbang, we also get a series of circle pits and plenty of crowdsurfing this evening. The Haunted made us do it indeed.