Huntsmen / Mandala Of Fear – an epic sonic landscape sewn out of storied fears

Chicago, IL has become a hub of post-metal development over the past few years. Huntsmen have carved out a name for themselves alongside the likes of fellow Chicagoans and Prosthetic Records artists Snow Burial. However, where Snow Burial consistently focuses on the grit, grime, and ills of society both lyrically and sonically, Huntsmen have taken an intriguing storytelling approach to doom-laden post-metal. This outfit has a deep passion for the American art from that has been championed by the likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Waits, and it truly shines through on their sonic output. Their upcoming release. Mandala of Fear, is a mammoth album that clocks in at 85 minutes, bursting with churning progressive American metal. Its rooted core is in conveying a story and the way in which it weaves in and out of various folk styles gives the album a feel of both harkening back and moving forward. The album is a sonic tale that falls in line with the likes of Today is the Day’s Temple of the Morning Star, in breadth, creativity, rawness, and unity. 

The driving musical prowess of Huntsmen is on full display in the instrumental track ‘Atomic Storms’. Waves of sound pour forth as the track touches on the ever looming possibility of atomic/nuclear warfare in the world. The following track, ‘God Will Stop Trying’, is a tumultuous work that opens with the spectacular vocal lines of Aimee Bueno which in turn give way to a roaring cauldron of sonic output. Sound emanates from the cast iron belly like smoke off of a witch’s brew. The smoke billows and churns through a sea of forlorn trees with the suffocatingly brilliant soundscape ‘Hill People Drugs’ that then breaks the tree line and shows the way to the transcendent ‘Bone Cathedral’. The lengthy journey continues on with offerings that harken back to the more folk adorned sonic landscapes that appeared on American Scrap (2018). That said, incredible moments of progressive post metal material are showcased in the two epic tracks on the back half of the album: ‘Awake at Time’s End’ and ‘The Swallow’. 

Huntsmen did not merely create a massive sonic and lyrical tapestry with Mandala of Fear, they created a harrowing American epic. 

Mandala Of Fear is released 13th March via Prosthetic Records and can be purchased here.

Words by: Garrett A. Tanner