Sunday 9 June 2024

HUNTSMEN ~ THE DRY LAND ..... review

There cannot be many bands out there who can claim to be associated with as many genre descriptions as Chicago, Illinois' Huntsmen, Marc Stranger-Najjar (bass/vocals); Ray Knipe (drums); Kirill Orlov (guitars); Chris Kang (guitars/vocals) and Aimee Bueno (vocals). In Desert Psychlist's research we have seen their music described as a post-metal, progressive sludge, metallic Americana, doom and even blackened folk metal and as strange as it might seem none of those descriptions are that wide of the mark, yet at the same time none are truly representative of the music this band make together. Huntsmen have, since day one of their existence, strived to make music that cannot be conveniently placed in a box or be given a label, a typical Huntsmen song (if such a thing exists) is one that can one minute be skirting around the edges of metallic extremism and the next be dipping its toes in rural and tranquil backwaters. The band’s latest album, "The Dry Land" (Prosthetic Records), continues along much the same convoluted and diverse musical paths its excellent full length predecessor, "Mandala of Fear" did, with fey and lilting passages of serenity vying for attention with passages of brutal intensity and prog(ish) complexity, only this time upgraded and with added levels.

Furious drumming and slightly blackened post-metal flavoured riffage introduces first track "This, Our Gospel" which is then replaced by a slightly less aggressive and sedate prog(ish) groove over which clean harmonies hold sway, the dominance of those harmonies being shared evenly between the three participants except in the songs slightly hazy and psychedelic mid-section where Bueno's fey and lilting tones become the main focus. "Cruelly Dawns" follows its ringing guitar motifs heralding in vocal trade-offs reminiscent of early British folk music before things start to move in a more prog -like direction and things get intricate and complex with jig and reel like guitar motifs vying for space with convoluted chord progressions and driving, almost mechanical, rhythms. The acoustic guitars come out for "Lean Times" the song boasting a 90's Americana meets 70's West Coast feel in its initial stages but then moving towards a more torch-like dynamic in its final moments. Gnarly thrumming sludge -like guitar tones growling bass and thunderous drums are the dynamics used to interrupt passages of swooning folk tinted prog on next track "In Time, All Things" while "Rain" sees Huntsmen becoming bluesmen, albeit bluesmen with a penchant for mixing sweeping clean vocal leads and harmonies with throat tearing harshness. Finally, we arrive at "Herbsight" a stunning opus that ties together all the various musical threads that makes up Huntsmen's sound and weaves them into one song, complex prog, textured post-metal, shades of Americana and folk all sharing the same space with elements sitting at the more extreme ends of the metal spectrum, an astounding finale to an outstanding album.

Huntsmen are a totally unique and totally original band, you cannot point a finger at these guys and accuse them of jumping on bandwagons or following trends as they are their own bandwagon, their own trend. In an ideal world an album as exciting and as vital as "The Dry Land" would be deservedly nominated for a Grammy or a Mercury Music Prize, unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world so until there is a shift in musical values Huntsmen are just going to have to settle for old hacks like Desert Psychlist, and others like us, to sing their praises.
Check 'em out ....

© 2024 Frazer Jones

No comments:

Post a Comment