Friday 19 November 2021

Evil Hunter - Lockdown (2021)

Country: Spain
Style: Heavy/Power Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 8 Oct 2021
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives | Official Website | YouTube

Here's another submission, this time of a band from Spain who are an odd mix of smooth and very much not smooth. The former is in the music, because they play a traditional form of heavy/power metal that's right out of the eighties and it's slick, tight and capably produced. The latter is in the lead vocals of Damián Chicano who has a powerful and abrasive voice that's probably bigger than he is and knows it. I initially thought Lizzy Borden and Marc Storace of Krokus, but the longer this ran, the more I realised it was Axl Rose trying to emulate Udo Dirkschneider. How I missed that on the opening of the opener, Guardian Angel, first time through, I have no idea.

There's certainly a lot of Accept here and not a heck of a lot of Guns n' Roses otherwise. Perhaps I could call out Get Up as the most obvious homage to the Accept style of riffing, but they're a clear influence from the beginning all the way to the end. In fact, I spent a long while trying to identify why the chorus of the closer, Blown with the Wind, sounded so familiar, until I realised that it was Winter Dreams, the closer to Accept's classic album Balls to the Wall.

The other obvious influence is Iron Maiden, though that's mostly in the guitarwork. This is a twin guitar band and José Rubio and Víctor Durán are clearly fans of the Murray/Smith approach. It's a given late in You'll Never Walk Alone but it shows up often. In fact, the other recognisable section, the intro to Burning in Flames, isn't light years away from the intro to Transylvania. Of course, as I point out that there are only two recognisable sections, I keep thinking others are familiar too, so I should highlight that none of these songs are ripoffs. Evil Hunter's sound is just distilled from so much eighties metal that it can't help but sound familiar.

There are other influences that I caught. There's a riff halfway through Burning in Flames that's right out of Tank. Some of the Maiden-esque guitarwork shifts a little forward to sound more like the many bands in European power metal who owe Maiden a debt. And, just to throw us, there's a Celtic bit on Blown with the Wind that does much the same job as those classical sections in many eighties Accept songs like Metal Heart and Bound to Fail.

I liked this from the outset, though Chicano's voice did take a little while to get used to, but it also grew on me a lot. I found myself taking fewer notes than I needed as I just sat back and enjoyed the damn thing, only realising it was done when that chorus from Blown with the Wind showed up again. I can't count how many times I listened through this album with the goal of taking more notes and failing miserably because I got caught up in enjoying it once again.

My favourite song is a gimme, for a change. It's Fear Them All, which kicks off the second side and it wins out because it does absolutely everything that Evil Hunter do well and in abundance: it has what may be the best riff, the best transition and surely the best hook. This is the song you'll find yourself singing along with even on a first listen. Sure, I can't swear that this one doesn't seem a little familiar too but I can't place anything.

And, perhaps most crucially, Chicano's voice is about as restrained on this one as it gets. I do like when he lets loose, because he has some serious power; he provides an excellent extended scream on You'll Never Walk Alone and promptly outdoes that at the end of Get Up. However, he's really fond of dancing on the border of control and just out of control for effect and that's the bit that's going to turn some people off. He gets a little raucous late in Fear Them All, but it builds well and that works.

At the end of the day, there isn't a lot that's original here, but Evil Hunter nail this eighties sound and take me back to the glory days of Accept and Tokyo Blade and Lizzy Borden. It's energetic and up tempo and accessible, but with a dangerous edge to it, courtesy of Chicano's vocals. Frankly, if you grew up listening to eighties metal in the UK, this will be right up your alley. And there isn't a duff track anywhere to be found. If you like one of these tracks, you're going to like all of them. If it featured more originality, like the Celtic sections on Blown with the Wind, this would be an 8/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment