Hunter’s debut self-titled album is an independent release. Based in Belgium, the five band members were in different bands for 2 decades, before coming together in 2016, recording this album in 2018. The seven tracks weigh in at the 3 minute mark, with some a little longer when an epic tale is to be told.
Each track is based on the idea of the Hunter – for example a soldier in World War 1, a knight, or a serial killer – and tell of the ethical, psychological and philosophical struggles of each in their role of the Hunter.
“Dominion” starts slow and low with guitars beginning to weave the tale. The vocals are clear, gravelled and show an impressive range – malevolently demonic one moment, then soaring like an angel the next. The guitars then gallop forward with a shift in pace. The musicianship is solid and the guitar solo is excellent. The track slows again, utilising the same riffs that have a new character at this slower cadence. The track ends with an evil growl, which is a fitting end, given that it has been about the struggle between good and evil and the growl being the clue to where this is going…
“Infiltrator” sneaks up on you, opening strongly with a sneaky bass line. It is up-tempo and utilises outstanding guitar work. The template of the album seems to be set along the lines of an epic tale unfolding, supported by driving riffs and masterful guitar solos.
“Then Comes the Night” slashes in, utilising Jack the Ripper as it’s theme. The guitars pulsate in the background and there is a killer bass riff. The pace of the guitars become frenetic and the solo is again excellent. The track features clever changes of pace and shifting musical elements, conveying a sense of disquiet and madness. It is a rich blend of diffuse musical characters.
“Underground” rises to the surface as the guitars chug along and the track has a different – and welcome – sound and character. I enjoyed a lyric that was, “Join me in darkness; corrupting the mind.” It tells a tale of temptation, of sinking down into corruption, of questioning the notions of religion, society and the afterlife.
“No Man’s Land” opens with a strong bass line and accompanying percussion. Driving riffs partner these elements and I enjoyed the impact of the dramatically slowed chorus. The vocals also clear in the chorus, conveying sadness and regret, but the track then rolls forward with the intensity used previously. I enjoyed a lyric that was used – “there are no tears in the eyes of the dead”. There are references to the sacrifice of self for the benefit of family and country. The track focuses on World War 1 and the arrangement mirrors the bloody bedlam of No Man’s Land, with hectic guitars and overlapping guitar solos. Military style drumming closes out the track.
“The Knight of the Black Rose” blossoms with the growling of a malevolent demon. In this complex offering, the knight comes to the rescue of a elf princess, vanquishing hordes of evil creatures in the process. However, his wife is threatened by his heroic deed, her jealousy a malignant cancer in her soul. Witches stick their wart encrusted noses into the miasma and the knight’s wife gives birth to a demon child, after a tryst with the unimaginable. The knight, enraged, slays his family and curses his castle. This is told using a different tempo and an amazing amount of musical layers. Remind me never to save an elfin princess. Who needs all of that?!
“Glorious” has an anthemic opening, as we should be happy that the battle between good and evil has been won by the ones with the horns. The vocals go up a register to convey the glorious nature of this outcome. The guitars wail their support and the solos again are god-like.
So, let’s take stock: witchcraft; a serial killer; throbbing bass lines; demons; orcs; elves; a black rose; a knight that succumbs to madness and kills his family; deeply threatening demonic vocals; insidious temptation; an epic battle between good and evil; an affair with a demon; before we eventually give in to being corrupted in the darkness. We’ve been hunted.
This album is epic in nature and I particularly enjoyed the more obvious presence of the bass riffs. The guitar solos are often amazing and the vocals have great range. The subject matter is genre appropriate and the musicianship is confident and competent. The different iterations of the Hunter are intriguing – a different take on the epic tale.
However, the style of music, it’s delivery and the themes are ones we’ve heard before. A little more innovation would have enriched this journey. Safe is nice, but corrupting the boundaries a little would have leant a little more weight to these shenanigans.
It’s a good listen and a solid debut for a band that has much promise.
Review by Greg Noble.