Review & Track Premiere: Young Hunter, Dayhiker

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

young hunter dayhiker

[Click play above to stream ‘The Feast’ from Young Hunter’s Dayhiker. Album is out Oct. 13 on The Fear and the Void Recordings.]

Thus far in a career that spans more than half a decade back to 2011’s semi-blackened Children of a Hungry World EP and 2012’s Stone Tools (discussed here) debut full-length — though at this point the band might be more comfortable considering both as demos — the tenure of Young Hunter has been marked by standout songwriting, geographic and personnel shift, and unmitigated stylistic growth. One might think that a certain amount of circumstantial upheaval might result in a corresponding sonic chaos, but after triumphant 2013 three-songer Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain (review here) was issued as a split tape with Ohioan, founding guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Blake moved himself and thereby the band from the Arizona desert to Portland, Oregon, and completely revamped the lineup around himself.

This new Pacific Northwestern incarnation of Young Hunter issued their of-sorts self-titled debut (review here) in 2016, and though it turned the group away from the rawness of impact that had in part served to highlight the sincere emotionalism driving Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain, it also demonstrated just how distinct Young Hunter‘s sound had become up to that point — that Blake could essentially reform the band, and they’d still sound like Young Hunter. Of course, his own performance as guitarist/vocalist is no small factor in that, but as the third Young Hunter album, Dayhiker, surfaces through The Fear and the Void Recordings with the returned lineup of keyboardist/vocalist Sara Pinnell, guitarist Erik Wells, bassist Sam Dean and drummer Grant Pierce alongside Blake, the same holds true in the seven-song/39-minute new offering, even as the band as a whole continues to progress and refine the scope of its individualized style.

Dayhiker was recorded by The Fucking Champs‘ Tim Green (Comets on FireEarthless, Citay, etc.) at Louder Studios in Grass Valley, California (NorCal, about an hour out from Sacramento), over the course of five days, and one can hear in the swing and punctuation of Pierce‘s snare/hi-hat and the vocals from Pinnell and Blake, respectively, in the sharp rhythmic stops of “In the Shadow of the Serpent” and “Black Mass” that there is a heavier push in these tracks than on the preceding outing, which is something that suits Young Hunter well, giving the contemplation of cuts like “Entered Apprentice,” with its steady line of organ behind a bouncing bassline from Dean, dual vocal arrangement and ’80s metallic shuffle, a resonant force behind its thrust when called upon to do so, as behind the quick solo just passed the halfway mark. The aforementioned “In the Shadow of the Serpent” is the leadoff, and the acoustic plucking with which it starts sets an immediately folkish underpinning even as it’s met with thuds and crashes and a slow march that gradually introduces the elements at play — guitar, bass, drums, keys — before moving into its swinging verse, which is delivered with enough tempo to be insistent and urgent but not more than it necessarily wants to be.

young hunter

Pinnell takes the first lead vocal and she and Blake trade fluidly as the subsequent power-hooks of “The Feast,” “Entered Apprentice” and “Hunger” play out, coming together atop the rolling groove of “The Feast,” letting Blake hold sway on “Entered Apprentice” with some complement, and finishing side A in duet fashion on “Hunger,” which answers the consistent organ line of the song before it with more keys establishing the root notes of the melody in the central riff played by Blake and Wells and shoved forward by the rhythm section, Dean working in dynamic basslines circa the four-minute mark that only enhance the effectiveness of the guitars surrounding. Young Hunter, in short, have it all working, and sound more like themselves than they have yet.

That means heft, patience, songwriting, naturalism of performance, a focus on emotionality and sonic elements drawn from classic heavy rock and metal put to modern and progressive use. Their sound, as they move into side B of Dayhiker with the lead guitar embellishment of “Dark Age,” has never felt so much like a tapestry and has come to owe no less of its richness to the forests of the Pacific Northwest than to nighttime visions of the sands around Tucson. “Dark Age” once again brings Pinnell and Blake together on vocals atop a rolling but tense progression topped with airy guitars held together by Dean‘s bass and Pierce‘s steady snare, and though the pace picks up after halfway through its near-six-minute run, Young Hunter save the larger payoff for “Black Mass,” which follows.

Working in multiple stages, the nine-minute side B centerpiece and penultimate inclusion on Dayhiker is ambitious and memorable in kind, setting its hook instrumentally in the intro and unfolding quickly into its first verse, deftly peppering in a guitar solo for a bridge before the second, and exploring a social thematic in progressive texture with a graceful balance of keys throughout, cycling through a longer guitar lead before another verse crosses the midpoint and brings a refrain of the repeated line, “This is the face I wore before I was born” from Blake and Pinnell that leads to a full stop at 6:14, crashing back in with a more urgent thrust and cymbal wash to introduce the next movement — a fuller and more weighted, all-in shove that, with yet another engaging vocal melody overhead, will carry Dayhiker to and through its apex, ringing out amp and effects noise as an acoustic guitar line enters the slow fade almost in answer to “In the Shadow of the Serpent.”

That’s closer “Night Hiker” ending the record with Pinnell holding sway on a last bit of forest folk that, were it not so gorgeously done, might be thought of as an epilogue. Keys join in subtly but only help the overall resonance as they have all along, and they and the gently swaying guitar back a farewell verse before cutting out and giving a few seconds of thoughtful silence before the track actually finishes. It’s a gorgeous and somewhat unexpected ending, but not by any means beyond the reach of Young Hunter at this stage, since if Dayhiker demonstrates anything, it’s that their maturity has brought them to a place where little would be. And they are mature enough at this point with the clear benefit of having worked together on the self-titled to make the most of the opportunity to craft something special here, which is exactly what they’ve done. What the ultimate impact of Dayhiker will be depends in no small part on the band — i.e., they need to tour, a lot — but no question that in style and substance they’ve reached a new echelon and only seem poised to continue to flourish.

Young Hunter, Dayhiker teaser promo

Young Hunter on Thee Facebooks

Young Hunter on Bandcamp

The Fear and the Void Recordings on Bandcamp

The Fear and the Void Recordings on Thee Facebooks

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Young Hunter Announce Dayhiker Out Oct. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

young hunter

It’ll be about a year and a half turnaround from Portland, Oregon’s Young Hunter as they follow-up their 2016 self-titled full-length (review here) with Dayhiker on Oct. 13 through The Fear and the Void Recordings. The genre-spanning/genre/defying five-piece once more bring an exploratory sense to their work musically and thematically with the album’s seven tracks, embarking on a multi-textured heavy feel drawn together through the sincerity of the emotionalism behind it and the weight brought to bear tonally and, again, in terms of the theme.

I’ve only dug into the finished version once or twice at this point, but the growth this band has undertaken over their releases is as palpable as it is willful. They push themselves. They’re pushing themselves still. I hope to have more to come on this one, because I continue to think this band is something special.

They hit the road the night before the vinyl drops. Info came in via the PR wire:

young hunter dayhiker

Young Hunter release 3rd album ‘Dayhiker,’ making old sounds fresh and new again

At a time when humanity’s annihilation isn’t a far-flung concept, whether from devastating environmental forces or our culture’s seemingly masochistic need for self-destruction, music and communication often feel like the only hope for turning the tide. Remembering who we are, discovering why we’re here, and finding connection with each other is our only hope, even though the hour feels late.

Enter Young Hunter, a band that evolved from a one-man project churning out tribal, psychotropic desert-doom to a collective of five individuals drawing from across the spectrum of stadium power rock, desert grooves, epic post-metal, and the rose-colored depths of mid-eighties high school rock radio.

With third album, Dayhiker, Young Hunter complete their transformation into a force within the many-splintered world of 21st century heavy music. Musically, the album traces a path through the darkness, confusion, and illusion of our times, transmuting them into a fire to confront feelings of fear and meaninglessness in the face of an uncertain future.

Lyrically, vocalist/guitarist Benjamin Blake isn’t afraid to ask the big questions: Why are we here? What is human culture? What is its relationship to the natural world, and what critical pieces of human history have we forgotten? Young Hunter dives into these themes with a sonic palette that harnesses the duality of male/female co-lead vocals. Harmonies and call-and-response tradeoffs between Blake and keyboardist Sara Pinnell are omnipresent, helping convey a range of feelings and connections that make the darkness beautiful, the heaviness hopeful, and the sorrow both personal and universal.

Says Blake: “Heavy music is inherently cathartic. It’s a way for a room full of people to realize they’re not alone in their suffering, confusion, frustration, and anger. And it’s beautiful because there’s no emotion that’s too intense for it. On Dayhiker, that’s something we pushed ourselves to explore.”

Accessing and expanding the old-becomes-new-again cultural bent of artists like Sumerlands and Horisont and cinematic touchstones like Stranger Things and Stephen King’s IT, Young Hunter’s Dayhiker offers a more organic and primal strand in this increasingly attractive tapestry.

Written collectively and honed on the road, Dayhiker is Young Hunter’s first release on the Fear and the Void label. It was recorded over the course of 5 days with Tim Green (Melvins, Wolves in the Throne Room, Comets on Fire) at Louder Studios, his analog retreat in Grass Valley, CA.

Benjamin Blake – Vocals, Guitar
Sara Pinnell – Vocals, Keys
Erik Wells – Guitar
Sam Dean – Bass
Grant Pierce – Drums

Tracklisting
1. In the Shadow of the Serpent
2. The Feast
3. Entered Apprentice
4. Hunger
5. Dark Age
6. Black Mass
7. Night Hiker

Dayhiker will be released on October 13th on vinyl LP and digital via Bandcamp. Young Hunter’s tour in support of the new record takes place during October across the following dates:

10/12 – Eugene, OR – Old Nick’s
10/13 – Reno, NV – The Holland Project
10/14 – Santa Rosa, CA – Cooperage Brewing Company
10/15 – Oakland, CA – Feral
10/18 – Las Vegas, NV – The Griffin
10/19 – Flagstaff, AZ – Flagstaff Brewing Company
10/20 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
10/21 – Santa Fe, NM – Rufina Taproom
10/23 – Bisbee, AZ – The Quarry
10/25 – Los Angeles, CA – Lexington
10/26 – San Francisco, CA – SF Eagle
10/27 – Nevada City, CA – Cooper’s
10/28 – Bend, OR – M and J Tavern
10/29 – Portland, OR – Kenton Club

https://www.facebook.com/Young-Hunter-127424170682508/
https://younghunter.bandcamp.com/
https://thefearandthevoidrecordings.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TheFearAndTheVoid/

Young Hunter, Dayhiker teaser promo

Young Hunter, Young Hunter (2016)

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