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Huntsmen - Mandala of Fear

Mandala of Fear
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 18 February 2020, 3:22 AM

From their “about” section on their Facebook page, “Much like Dylan, Springsteen and Waits, Chicago’s Americana metal outfit, HUNTSMEN, continue the long standing tradition of storytelling in their music. Huntsmen just do it with volume higher and more metallic grit.” “Mandala of Fear” is the band’s second full-length album, and contains twelve tracks. It’s a concept album, focusing on a lone surviving solider in a future desert war, and his experiences with amnesia and PTSD.

“Ride Out" leads off the album. "Colossus” opens with a fuzzy and dark riff, a feature of the Doom/Stoner genre. Some harmonies in the chorus provide a little melody, but this is riff driven metal with an edge. “Atomic Storms” opens with some atmosphere before this big, lumbering riff rolls in with attitude. For the first four minutes, that massive riff repeats itself, weighing down on you like the weight of all your enemies put together. From there, a little variation if offered towards the end of the song with a quiet, ambient passage. “God will stop Trying” opens with female clean vocals and some light, airy elements. Her soulful crooning is well noted. When the male vocals come in the song turns darker. Then, harsh vocals come in and the song ends in a chaotic passage.

“Pirates of the Waste” opens with a steady drum passage and then bass guitar. When the guitar drops it is downright bossy. Your left foot instinctually taps hard along with the beat. “Hill People Drugs” is a shorter song, clocking in at just under four minutes. It features dissonant and eerie guitar notes, that echo with reverb, sounding like something that comes from the distant edges of the universe. “Bone Cathedral” is just over four minutes. It opens with more of that dissonant guitars, and then the vocals come in half harsh, half clean, but somber and despondent. “A Nameless Dread” opens with guitar, bass and drums together in this synergy. When the harsh vocals ensue, it turns to chaos briefly, and then back to that main sound again. “Awake at Time’s End” is a nine-minute beast. It opens with airy clean guitars and vocals, and with a little melody line. The vocals paint a desolate picture…the end times indeed. The bass guitar really carries much of the thud that you can hear in an extended instrumental passage.

“Loss” opens quietly and softly, with minimal instrumentation, as the song title suggests. It has a nifty little melody line that carries throughout the song. “The Silver Lining” is a quick two-and-a-half minute of desolate guitars and vocals. “The Swallow” is an over ten-minute opus, with a slow, lumbering pace. The dual clean vocals in the verses provide some context to the tale. Following some harsh vocals, it takes a long pause, with half-distorted guitars, eventually returning to the previous sound. “Clearing the Sand” closes the album, again with a slow opening. Doleful clean vocals follow. Some sad melodies develop as well, like the world hangs to one man’s hope that is already faltering. As it fades out, it takes your soul with it.

I really enjoyed the album, though I had a hard time following the concept. But some of the most massive riffs I’ve ever heard are present here, as well as a lot of diversity. The mix in the various vocal techniques was probably most pronounced, as some of the songs were heavy while others remained a bit more lighthearted. Overall, it’s about the doom of mankind and the songs are on point with that sentiment.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Ride Out
2. Colossus
3. Atomic Storms
4. God will stop Trying
5. Pirates of the Waste
6. Hill People Drugs
7. Bone Cathedral
8. A Nameless Dread
9. Awake at Time’s End
10. Loss
11. The Silver Lining
12. The Swallow
13. Clearing the Sand
Chris Kang
Marc Stranger-Najjar
Kirill Orlov
Ray Knipe
Aimee Bueno
Record Label: Prosthetic Records


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Edited 08 February 2023

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