Pardon me if I sound paranoid, (although after spending the last week on the Internet, can you really blame me?), but Portland-based Young Hunter feels designed to lure me in. Do you remember that old viral image of a "Dayhiker, streaming in full below before its Friday release, is such a bear trap aimed directly at me. Naturalistic production? Check. Softly sung harmonized vocals? Check. Rock organ to fill the gaps? Check. Do they throw a third on it? You can bet your ass they do.

Dayhiker is a stylistic throwback that forgoes heaviness for melody and aggression for mysticism.The past that Young Hunter evokes belongs as much to the earthy groove of American rock as it does fanciful European prog. The band exists in a perpetual late summer dusk, sweaty from humidity and weary from the heat.

Even at their most explosive, like on "The Feast," Young Hunter are unhurried. Their guitar harmonies drip with honey, especially on the delirious bridge to "Dark Age," and songs like "Entered Apprentice" and "Black Mass" have a seriously laidback swing to them. Singer and guitarist Benjamin Blake matches this with a deliberate calm on the lid of deep unease. Using a blunt psychedelia, Blake confronts "the promise of death" with plainspoken humanity.

Equally important to the band's later summer magic is keyboardist and vocalist Sara Pinnell. Pinnell's vocals might be more immediately appreciable, considering she handles lead duties on closer "Night Hiker" and underlines many of the album's most stirring melodies. However, her keyboard playing is the sleeper MVP of the record, bolstering the harmony and helping launch the climax of "Black Mass" into the cosmos.

In combination, Young Hunter breathes life into old school heavy metal's spirit and lose little by bringing it to 2017. "If you can hear me then I'm talking to you," Blake intones early on. Loud and clear.

Dayhiker comes out on October 13th via Fear and the Void. Follow Young Hunter on Facebook here.



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