Huntsmen pride themselves on pushing forward storytelling in metal, and their début full-length American Scrap certainly tells a solid tale of American spirit and grit. It paints a bleak picture with help from an eclectic soundscape that mixes the likes of Americana, doom and progressive death metal. This may sound confusing at first, but it grows in power and depth upon each listen.
“Canary King”, for example, is a story of hardship, told from the perspective of a coal miner towards the turn of the 20th Century. For many, the image of coal mines is romanticised as a key part of American history in providing the country with a strong backbone of brave people giving their all for the greater good. However, this is a song that doesn’t hold back in its scathing judgement of the above. It opens with a clean chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place in a country and western piece:
“Give me dust, give me death. Fill my lungs with blackness. Scratch my wounds with sighing breath. Send me to the mines again.”
It’s powerful stuff. Shortly after this, the track bursts into life with a crushing riff filled with equal potency to Chris Kang’s emotional vocals. There’s a little bit of a Mastodon vibe to the heavy sounds in this track, but with some Pink Floyd style progression and atmosphere thrown in for good measure. It’s an odd sound to get to grips with immediately, but boy does the record grow on you.
“Your body crushed and torn. Your spirit dying unborn.”
American Scrap contains five full-length tracks (“Bury Me Deep”, “Interlude A – Shipwrecked” and “Interlude B – Insurrection” are all shorter, more atmospheric pieces) and each one is brimming with dark grooves and rich storytelling. For all the darkness in the album, however, there is always some light. Kang’s clean vocals are full of hope, regardless of the dark lyrics behind his delivery. There is a lot going on in each full track here – it’s akin to the deep songwriting of an Opeth record, without quite matching up to the death metal devastation of their earlier stuff. Each of the full-fat tracks here is worthy of equal merit and praise, with chopping and changing tempos, anger and softer moments of beauty all represented without compromise. American Scrap is full of sadness, hope and snarling bite in equal measure.
There’s a lot to pick apart in American Scrap. We as listeners are tasked with picking the record à la American Pickers; on first glance, it may appear to be a whole load of eclectic junk thrown together in a scrapheap, but dig a little deeper and there is a lot of gold to be found. You’ve never heard anything quite like this, and you won’t want to stop doing so.
American Scrap Track Listing:
01. Bury Me Deep
03. Canary King
04. Interlude A – Shipwrecked
05. Atlantic City
06. Interlude B – Insurrection
07. The Barrens
08. The Last President
Run Time: 40:43
Release Date: February 23, 2018
Check out the video for single “Bury Me Deep” here.