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Huronian – As Cold As A Stranger Sunset Award winner

As Cold As A Stranger Sunset
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 02 November 2021, 6:14 AM

HURONIAN is an Italian extreme metal band who formed in 2020, also the year they released their self titled EP. "As Cold as a Stranger Sunset," is their full length debut. The band plays a high octane mix of melodic death/black metal, with a huge nod to the old school days of the genre.  Imagine influences from DISSECTION and the burgeoning days of melodic death like DARK TRANQUILLITY and AT THE GATES. However, those influences are more for this album's overall style and genre but not so much the actual sound itself. HURONIAN may look to the past for inspiration, and perhaps you've heard too much of these genres before, but their sound is all their own.

HURONIAN is actually word derived from "Huronian glaciation," an ice age that covered the entire earth in ice for the first time. Indeed the very feel of the album is on the colder, more abrasive side.  Combine this with the album's well imagined cover art, and the music within the album's nine track, 32 minute run time is definitely otherworldly. Perhaps it is our world still but so different that it might as well be alien. Some of these thoughts bleed into the music itself. While I wouldn't call it alien, I would call it exploitative and dangerous.  Even if you're familiar with the extreme side of melodic metal, this will still come off as a fresh listen.

The ever impressive Daniele Lupidi provides the vocals for this sonic assault.  His voice uses a different style than what I hear with VALGRIND and HATEFUL. For this effort, he sounds more raw and even a little unhinged. The album beings with the simply titled "Intro" which is uninteresting. But once the speeding riffs and drums mark the beginning of "Portals To The Unspeakable," the album grabs ahold and never lets go. The frenzied energy of the guitars and bass works well with the frantic drums as their high octane energy combines with the powerful vocal assault for a brand of melodic metal that is more abrasive than most. Deep growls push a short but soaring guitar lead outward before the song pummels back to the ground, landing hard before intricate melodies meld with the rhythmic assault.

"A Tale Of Frost And Stone," sees the band trying their hand on a shorter number. Can they be as effective with less runtime? Yes and,if anything, it makes the song all the more desperate and urgent. The melodies that back up Daniel's vocals are enthralling and act as another layer, another nuance that begs to replayed again and again. The first gutiar solo cements UMP's ability to bring out these myriad musical flavors without pulling the listener out of the song. The tone and speed of "Hopeless Barricade," let's their blackened roots shine through. This song is no doubt one of the more intense songs but I liked how it still finds space to throw in melodic death in between the near content hammering. The movement from 2:20 to 2:47 is intense as hell nearly mind boggling. It makes me happy that HURONIAN can pay tribute to melodic death/black yet still recognize the need for engrossing intensity and trepidation.

"Birds Among Insects" is perpetual motion that starts on a rise and just climbs higher. The guitars and bass are dizzying, like pulling a thread and having it unravel into an maddening end.. And that galloping double bass? Made my heart beat so fast I thought I might pop.  MM is a beast on the kit for sure! At 3:06 melodic tinges over take the song as the drums keep the furious flow moving— this part all the way to the song's end is one of my favorite movements in the whole album. The best on "Awakened in a Nameless Time (Pt. 1)" races against the vocals to see which one could shred my ears apart first. Spoiler alert: they arrive at the same time. The riffs are groovy and settle right into home wi the rhythm section for a satisfying metallic romp that leads into a melodic that ends the song strongly. Hope there is a part two on a future release!

I have three tracks left to talk about and they are all magnificent. As good as the previous songs are, these final few knock it out of the park. "Ever-Burning," burns bright with swift and thoughtful guitar but the bass is impressive as it holds down the foundation for the vocals to build upon. This rager of a song really shines in the places where its just the growls rolling over the bass but a brief melodic mid section catches the ears by paving the way for an epic passage of harmonies bouncing off the riffs and drums.

"Emissary of the Void," thaws the band's rage and they cut loose, going straight for the jugular. For most of the song all the instruments just pile on top of each other until the music breaks off for a rather moving guitar solo that leaves behind wonderful melodies before the song busts out all the stops for a wild ending. "Shadow Cast by Eternal Sails," is a strong finisher and a song written with that classic melo death sound but with the band's own brand of brutality thrown into it, exploding like a bomb that pushes the atmosphere outward in waves. Daniel's vocals are especially strong on this track, I bet he damn near popped a vein in his forehead doing this song.

HURONIAN's "As Cold as a Stranger Sunset," is a hugely satisfying album that nods to the past but shows modern bands how it is done.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Portals to the Unspeakable
3. A Tale of Frost and Stone
4. Hopeless Barricade
5. Birds Among Insects
6. Awakened in a Nameless Time (Pt. 1)
7. Ever-Burning
8. Emissay of the Void
9. Shadow Cast by Eternal Sails
UMP - Bass, Guitars, Keyboards
MM - Drums
DL – Vocals
Record Label: Dolorem Records


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