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HUNTSMEN have returned to add a dynamic new chapter to the rich and varied tradition of great American storytelling. Mandala of Fear, massive in scope and spanning two full LPs, explores themes of trauma, recovery, and – ultimately – survival, through the lens of a fully formed sci-fi-esque tale set in the near future as unending desert war crumbles into apocalypse. Having enlisted Aimee Bueno to provide vocals for the final track of American Scrap, her role has since evolved into being an equal participant in the Huntsmen adventure.

With the dust barely settled in the aftermath of 2017’s American Scrap, the now expanded Chicago-based ensemble set about creating the framework that the intricate and immersive story of Mandala of Fear would hang from. The tale follows a soldier on her first combat mission gone wrong, as she encounters wartime horrors and traverses obstacles – both physical and emotional – dredging depths of internal resilience as she redefines the meaning of personal strength. Her saga can be consumed as a standalone epic, or approached as a metaphor for those same themes as experienced by the story’s authors.

Whilst storytelling has been – and remains – at the core of all that HUNTSMEN is, they continue to dissolve the boundaries between metal and the more traditional modes of folk and country. Americana-metal still rings true as a descriptor, from the opening bars through to the denouement of the album a full 85 minutes later. With sparkling, yearning highs speaking of vulnerability and hope, and bleak, soul crushing lows groaning a dirge of isolation and despair, Mandala of Fear marries melody and progressive elements to create an undulating foundation to layer its dystopian missive on atop.

Recorded at Decade Studios in Chicago with Sanford Parker occupying the producer’s chair, Mandala of Fear was laid down over two weeks in April 2019. Parker’s own love of true American storytellers such as Waylon Jennings further imbued the spirit of the tradition into every crevice of the album, while his leanings toward icy electronic music provide a chilling and gut-wrenching counterpoint. Paired with HUNTSMEN’s past-and-future timelessness, the result is breathtaking and devastating.

With no stone unturned in the all-consuming Mandala of Fear, the album is accompanied by visual elements that enhance the narrative. With cover artwork painted by drummer Ray Knipe depicting the site of this telling of humanity’s last great war, the album is further complemented by the addition of an accompanying comic book; the characters are brought to life via the drawings of Danny White.

Huntsmen is:

Chris Kang – Vocals, Guitars

Marc Stranger-Najjar – Bass, Vocals

Kirill Orlov – Guitars

Ray Knipe – Drums, Vocals

Aimee Bueno – Vocals