Huntsmen are from Chicago. ‘Mandala of Fear’ is their follow up to 2018’s ‘American Scrap’. Okay the facts are out the way, time for a series of head scratching remarks. Listening to this album was a challenge. Because for one, it’s 78 minutes long. 78…..minutes…….loooooooooooong. At no capacity should a new band be releasing so much material on a sophomore album. It is ridiculous, I am not interested in the reasons for it. Because a sole factor is this band will be in support slots for the next two years, being still a fresh entity. Which means they’ll barely touch any of this material. To unload so much at someone who is going to likely not know who you are, is off putting from the start. Anyway, what about the actual songs? The thirteen songs they’ve tracked. Five more than the previous debut album.

My biggest gripe is this album has solid material. Actual, brilliant songs that could marauder across the metal landscape, gaining fans village by village. But I doubt many will know, because by track five, ‘Pirates of the Waste’ you’re entering minute 30 on the album. It’s also the third instrumental. By track five, up to a third instrumental. My hope of a good listen and my time being well spent where nearly dashed until the song ‘Bone Cathedral’ kicks in. It kicks in the door and asks “what’s wrong with you? Listen to this!” and the album comes alive! You will come back from the near slumber you where bound for. Why is the second half of this album exciting?? Why did I sit through a sheer amount of boring, dull, unrequired material?? Even the albums longest runner ‘The Swallow’ is enthralling. It wraps up with ‘Clearing the Sand’, a great closer. I am mystified with this album.

Trying to round this up in my head, because I’ve never come across an album, to use a football analogy ‘a game of two halves’.
If you where going to a festival and this band where on the line up and you checked out the first six songs, you’d just skip it and go the bar or do something else. If you listen to the last seven songs, you’ll want to be front row.

Mandala Of Fear: Out Now (Prosthetic Records)