Huntsmen – American Scrap (Prosthetic Records, 23 February 2018)
“Storytelling is the great, albeit fading, American pastime. It predated writing and in many instances, was told in song. In modern times, many musicians have approached their music from a storytelling point of view: Dylan, Springsteen and Waits to name a few. Chicago’s Americana metal outfit, Huntsmen, are carrying the torch for heavy bands to be added to that list.”
So begins the press release for this band’s debut LP, which came out about a week ago. Bold words? Sure. A little presumptuous? Maybe. But the self-described Heavy Americana band caught my attention, and the fact that they were kicking off the Prosthetic Records release of American Scrap with a short excursion across the mid-west and mid-Atlantic with label-mates Livid (with whom our readers ought to already be familiar) especially got me to check out this album.
That tour actually wraps up tonight (Sunday, 4th March) — see the details listed way down below — but first let’s talk a little about the band and their songs …
We start out with the Jar of Flies-toned acoustic strumming of “Bury Me Deep” which consists of some folksy clean singing and a bit of bluesy overdriven lead guitar (and just a hint of feedback) before fading away after just a minute and a half. From there the album takes trips in all sorts of directions — often melancholy, often dark, often heavy-hearted, all of which are common components of American folk music, although with the introduction of thrums of distorted guitars and snarled (almost blackened) post-hardcore vocals interwoven through the tapestry, coloration that both underscores and enhances the overall mood.
Sometimes this can seem like a sort of multiple personality disorder — as an example, the song “Canary King” includes some sweet harmonized clean vocals (very similar to those often employed by Brimstone Coven), but then delving into some deep death-growls, and later combining the two with the addition to some tortured shrieks as well. Altogether — you may not remember this, but a few years back I happened to write a review that encompassed two very different bands, one specializing in Americana and one representing the Chicago metallic noise-hardcore end of the spectrum. This Huntsmen album is very much like tossing both of those together, over some ice with a squeeze of lime juice, and shaking vigorously.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also address the ‘story’ element here. That IS where we started out, isn’t it? The band has stated that, lyrically, the album tries to wrap its head around “the paradox of American nationalism and pride” considering that wide variety of national origins among its citizenry — as well as the similarly contradictory feeling of being simultaneously “proud of the inclusive and optimistic ideal [America] represents” while also being “ashamed of so much of its past and present.” In fact, the title American Scrap itself reflects the “melting pot” of various immigrants’ cultures that make up this country, just as much as the overall sound of the record mirrors that jumbled amalgam.
Buy here : http://amzn.to/2GISt2f
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Huntsmen – Livid Tour 2018:
02/22 – Chicago IL – Empty Bottle
02/23 – Ft Wayne IN – Jerilee’s Pub
02/24 – Grand Rapids MI – Mulligan’s
02/25 – Milwaukee WI – Quarters
02/26 – Detroit MI – El Club
02/27 – Cleveland OH – Now That’s Class
02/28 – Louisville KY – Cure Lounge
03/01 – Newport KY – Southgate House Revival
03/02 – Richmond VA – McCormack’s
03/04 – Pittsburgh PA – Howler’s