E.P. Review: Huntsmen – The Dying Pines

E.P. Review: Huntsmen - The Dying Pines
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

It was only a concerted spamming on my social media that piqued my interest in Huntsmen. With two potential albums to explore, this E.P. seemed the perfect taster to see whether it was worth committing more time. Coming at an E.P. with no knowledge of the artist can be fraught with challenge but it was a worthy experiment despite a cover of a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, more of which in a little while.

Huntsmen formed in Chicago, Illinois, several years ago. The band comprise Aimee Bueno – vocals, Chris Kang – vocals & guitars, Marc Stranger-Najjar – bass & vocals, Kirill Orlov - guitars and Ray Knipe – drums & vocals. With several vocalists including the delightful harmonies of Bueno, there are echoes of such sludge luminaries as Mastodon and Baroness, as well as elements of Cult of Luna amongst others soaked through the band’s music. Slightly Americana in parts, elsewhere ferociously doom-laden with huge, fuzzed up riffs, Huntsmen weave a sonic spell that is formed via their warm harmonies and layered instrumentals.

E.P. Review: Huntsmen – The Dying Pines

The three songs that feature here couldn’t be more different. The title track is gentle, melancholic, and full of dark, bleakness. The guitars that play out the tune work in tandem, crafting an acoustic song that is both evocative and haunting. It’s a total contrast to the thunderous eight-minute beast that is ‘Let the Buried Lie Forgotten’. A rolling riff and drum pattern with a total change in pitch and vibe, this is a song that grabs and shakes you. There is still gentle interplay, but the heaviness is brought with a savageness absent in the first song. Fine guitar work is underpinned by the harmonies that are laced throughout their music. It’s a delicate balance that works well.

And so, to ‘Carry On’, the previously mentioned cover. It’s a song suited to Huntsmen, whose classic vocals mirror the style of the legendary band whose folk music which carried political themes was such an influence over 50 years ago. Huntsmen aren’t afraid to have a real go at it, with a thicker, heavier approach that retains the heart of the original but brings a fresh and dramatic approach. Extending the original by over two minutes doesn’t do any damage either.

Huntsmen’s music has intrigued me. With their seminal debut release ‘American Scrap’ due to be reissued on 6th May, and the band due to play that album in full at Roadburn festival, now is the time to search out more.

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