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Hunter - The Return

The Return
by Chris Hicklin at 20 September 2021, 2:54 PM

Formed in the wake of the NWOBHM scene and with a declared heavy influence from that genre, HUNTER released two albums, 1985’s “Sign of The Hunter” and 1987’s “Keep The Chance” to relatively little success before breaking up and remaining inactive until 2019. Now, as their album title helpfully announces, they have returned to try and rock us once again with this offering of eleven tracks, nine of new material and two reworkings of material from their original run.

Kicking off with “Way to Nowhere” one can conclude that they were serious about their influences, it kicks off with a very solid MAIDEN-esque guitar riff, thundering drums, galloping bass, random pick squeals, all boxes ticked. Rusty Wayman’s vocals are strong, but feel a little strained, as while he always alights upon the correct note eventually, it’s not always immediate. Still, with its exciting guitar solo and relentless pace it’s a strong start.

It’s here that things seem to go a little sideways. The opening riff from track two, “Call Me What You Want” honestly sounds much more like something from POISON’S “Look What The Cat Dragged In” than anything from a Heavy Metal band. I sit awaiting BRET MICHAELS to greet me with an “Uhhhhhh!”, which never materialises (more on that later), but you feel was there in spirit anyway. Taking on a more AC/DC feel as the song goes on especially in a guitar break which really recalls the boogie of MALCOLM YOUNG the song is a simple, and cheesy hair rock track. The vocals still seem strained I am afraid to say.

“Hell What A Woman” is more of the same, beginning with a riff sounding eerily similar to the previous song. Sounding like any number of mid to late 80s Hair Metal bands, it fails to distinguish itself in any serious manner.

 “Celebration Time” finally delivers what we have been waiting for. Another CC DEVILLE sounding riff gives way to an “Uhhhh!,” as the drums kick in, although sounding more like a bad hiccup than an explosion of Rock power. “It’s celebration time, we are young we are crazy, it’s celebration time, wake up don’t be lazy”, the lyrics rather optimistically and simplistically speak for themselves. The only thing it’s missing so far is a geographical description of the opposing coasts of the USA, but don’t worry party animals, from the East Coast to the West Coast, it’s got that too. The guitars have some distortion on this track, and not in the deliberate way, there is clipping which needs seeing to. I will say the vocal performance is much stronger on this track.

“The Wheels Turn On” is the first of the reworkings of old tracks. This shows some pedigree, a much stronger track, a good old fashioned Heavy Metal riff that evokes a feel of rolling down the road, and some solid dual guitar soloing help this track along, as do the simple heart felt lyrics about the trials and tribulations of being a part of a Rock band and its crew. If you’ve been in a touring band, you’ll feel this one.

Moving on “Talk of the Town” gives us more of the late 80s sounding Hair Rock, with those lazily sing-shouted choruses that are the bedrock of that genre, still it gives people something to shake their fists to at gigs. I can imagine these tracks come over much better in the live environment than they are doing on record. They are great fun, but not going to stick with you for more than 5 minutes.

Skipping past a few unspectacular tracks, we get to what must be the highlight of the album “My Life is Digital” this track is much more serious sounding, evoking a sound and feel a little like something from “Somewhere in Time”. It has a good tune to it and some chunky guitar riffing. There is a very solid section where the guitars, bass and drums are all working in unison, and it is a powerful attack with the best percussion and drum work to be found anywhere on the album. Throw in some cool synths and you almost have a band that is forging a memorable sound, one they hurriedly discard for the closing track “Watch Out for Metal”.

Overall, this album is not a disaster, but it relies far too heavily on a string of Rock cliches. The lyrics are too often puerile, and too many tracks feel like a budget version of bands that were already selling themselves cheap. The songs are almost all a very similar mid-tempo, and choruses often consist of 3 or 4 people simply shouting the name of the song.

The musicianship is decent throughout, there are a few quality guitar riffs and solos, and the rhythm section is never less than highly competent. The production has quite a lot of distortion and clipping and sometimes sounds like the producer put the band into a Tupperware container and pointed a microphone at it. If I saw this band were playing locally, I might well go and see them as they seem like it would be a fun gig, but I cannot see myself revisiting this release.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 4
Production: 5

2 Star Rating

1. Way to Nowhere
2. Call Me What You Want
3. Hell What a Woman
4. Looking for Love
5. Celebration Time
6. The Wheels Turn On (2020 Edition)
7. Talk of The Town
8. Wipe the Tears Away
9. No Compromise
10. My Life Is Digital
11. Watch Out for Metal (2020 Edition)
Rusty Wayman - Vocals
Steven Brandy - Guitar
Jay Youngblood - Guitar
T.H. Bongardinho - Bass
Paul "Mosh" B. Herrmann - Drums
Record Label: Cargo Records


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