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With each release, Huntsmen becomes more and more difficult to describe. Back in 2014, the Chicago group's initial offering, the Post War EP, was safe to file under post-rock, although bordering on the doom category -- it was a fun listen (my first Bandcamp purchase ever), but carried with it no sign of the sound developments that were to come. However, all Huntsmen releases since have pushed their sonic envelope further toward a largely uncontested take on Americana-tinged metal. Evoking thoughts of Bob Dylan just as much as Indian, their sound enfolds post-metal, doom, classic rock, and progressive rock into narrative-rich, emotional proceedings that can riff hard while telling genuinely interesting stories.

That complex concoction isn't accidental, either: Huntsmen, as far back as when I first encountered them at a dive bar in Chicago, has always been a thoughtful band with a diligent musical integrity driving their output. I had the chance to sit down with a few members of the band to get insight on the new album, the band's past, and interesting things in the works -- check out the video interview now which begins with some live Huntsmen footage set to the new album's opening song "Ride Out."

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Their upcoming album Mandala of Fear certainly is something to saddle up for: a double LP that opens with the Yes-channeling "Ride Out" and goes, musically, in a hundred different directions after that point while still maintaining conceptual adherence and sublime coherency. Spanning progressive stoner rock, death-doom-ish post-metal, and any number of fleeting micro-genres, all in all you're facing a sound that's really just their own: I'll call it Huntsmen, and be done with it.

Huntsmen's 2018 debut full-length American Scrap set a pretty high bar, cementing the band for me as a must-know Chicago act and setting out an incredibly vivid portrayal of a bleak post-apocalyptic America that was packed to the brim with riffs, emotion and haunting vocals, notably including the then-guest-starring Aimee Bueno on the closing track "The Last President." For Mandala of Fear, Bueno joined the band as a full-time member, giving the protagonist of the album's story a voice of her own and helping the new album surpass the benchmark set by American Scrap. That's not the only change, either: in addition to shifting to digital recording and taking full advantage of the benefits, they recorded with Sanford Parker at the helm this time around and incorporated his seasoned perspective into the fine tuning of the album. Mandala of Fear is a far cry from American Scrap, although the bones of both bear some similarity -- rather than sticking to their stomping grounds, they've set their sights higher and further sharpened their weapons, setting out on the trail of stranger beasts.

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Mandala of Fear releases March 13th via Prosthetic Records.

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