Review: Hunter – The Return
Metalapolis Records (August 6th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Hunter, a band that released two albums in the 1980s to middling success in Germany, decide to give it another go with their new album, appropriately titled ‘The Return’. Not knowing much about the band, their bio states that they were heavily influenced by the NWOBHM bands of the early 80s. I certainly cannot argue with that.
Upon listening to this album, I immediately think of Tygers of Pan Tang, a group that is going strong to this day and still packs a punch. What is most surprising is the riffs and melodies on this album are incredibly reminiscent of that early 80s sound. These have to be leftover songs or at least song ideas, because it sounds like this band was teleported from the early 80s to record their material in this day and age. If they got together over 30 years later and constructed this album from scratch, it would have to be one of the most amazing accomplishments I have ever heard.
As stated previously, fans of the NWOBHM era are going to eat this up. Guitarists Steven Brandy and Jay Youngblood are the clear standouts here. They tear up tracks like ‘Way To Nowhere’, ‘Talk of the Town’, and ’Celebration Time’, the latter being my particular favorite on the album. Producer Rolf Munkes helps to construct that classic 80s sound for a more modern time and does an admirable job. Nothing too flashy, just lets all of the instruments shine throughout.
While I think this is a good album, there’s two things that are preventing it from being a great album. With the exception of a few tracks (the aforementioned ’Talk of the Town’), the songs do not have the standard verses, bridge, chorus paradigm. Most of the songs go from the verses straight into an amalgam of a bridge/chorus, at times without any significant note progression. There were several times on the album that I was not even aware that the chorus had begun until halfway through or the very end when they say the name of the song. The lack of dynamics does not make many of the choruses POP!
The other issue is the rhythm section of bassist T.H. Bongardinho and Paul B. Herrmann. Their playing is certainly solid, but you know exactly what you’re getting within the first 20 seconds of the song and it does not vary. The rhythm they hold maintains for the entire length of the song, which makes the tracks predictable, safe, and… non-dynamic. An occasional double time change up would certainly have broken up the monotony.
If neither one of these pointers is an issue for you, and certainly if you’re looking for that NWOBHM sound from bands other than Saxon or Tygers of Pan Tang, then this is an album that should certainly be added to your collection. A fine return indeed!