I really enjoyed 2018’s American Scrap, and it grew in my estimation over time too. At almost 80 minutes in duration this new album is almost double the length of the band’s first full length; Huntsmen are clearly not lacking in ambition. Driven by storytelling, Mandala of Fear takes the listener on a dystopian journey, one that has the musical ability to back up its concept.
This is not entirely the same Huntsmen that created American Scrap, as they have added a new member to their lineup who merely guested on their debut album. Her voice adds another layer to Huntsmen’s music, one that was teased on American Scrap. Now fully integrated, she adds much value to the widened world of Huntsmen.
The band’s music has expanded in scope, taking the American-influenced post-metal approach of their earlier work and developing it further with folk and country influences into a full progressive rock/metal framework. As such, Mandala of Fear is a compelling progressive/post-metal hybrid that’s unafraid to delve into musical arenas that a lot of bands are unaware of, and would probably not go anywhere near even if they were.
Rich and varied, the band’s progressive approach to their music is exciting to hear, and this is a layered, immersive album of great breadth and passion. The multiple stylistic subgenres and influences that Huntsmen bring to their music would quickly descend into a mess were it not for the skill and vision of the band.
Full of emotion and atmosphere, there’s great depth to be had here. The band also know how to tear out the heavy riffs when they need to as well, adding sonic might to their nuanced, intricate delivery. Well-written, with many hooks and catchy moments shared around the music’s multifaceted songwriting, Mandala of Fear is an album that you’ll want to keep delving into again and again.
As accomplished as American Scrap was, in retrospect it now sounds like a prototype for Mandala of Fear. This new album is epic in all senses of the word. Although its imposing running time will undoubtedly put some off, this is a real gem of an album and sees Huntsmen blossoming into something special.