WILDHUNT: “Descending” CD
It’s heartening when a young band delivers a classic sound with genuine conviction and all the more so when that particular style runs off the beaten track. Somewhat akin to the feisty Risen Prophecy, Wildhunt’s take on Thrash is tempered with power, diversity and technical understanding. The opening sequence of “Age of Torment” unashamedly harkens back to the late ’80s and should have you smiling ear to ear like the teenager you never left behind. The guitar tone, those screaming licks, punchy drums and of course that gradual build in pace is guaranteed banging like a maniac in less than ninety seconds. A worthy flagship. But remember, it’s not all flat out thump and with the album spanning the guts of an hour that’s appropriate. By and large, the Austrians favour expansive compositions, with only the catchy compact “Erlkonig” and “The Wild Hunt” of the nine songs proper bowing out in under five minutes. Expect much to absorb along the way from the sharp and snappy vocal delivery to duelling guitars. The melodic resonance of “Terror Right Below” is delightful. “Lifeless Birth” is a rush of blood, with a brief refrain suspended in the middle, before another solo pierces the calm and the heart of the song rolls back in with gusto. Both “Death Spares (N)one” and the inspired “History Deletes Itself” are swept along by furious energy and pounding drums. But the former cannot compete with the latter’s lyricism and infectious flow. Then somewhere in no man’s land lies a pondered acoustic reprise before a barrage of wonderful lead breaks blows away the barbed wire on the other side. “Thrill to Kill” keeps the hooks coming with equal drama and in longest offering, “Crystal Deth” the guitar remains king. It’s almost schizophrenic with layers and labyrinthine rhythms before ultimately winding down on the instrumental title track. Fair to say, “Descending” is earthy, gritty and memorable with thematic depth. Perhaps the album would have benefitted from shaving off a song. But it’s not enough to overlook the power trio. My only query is if the second guitarist will remain a part-time guest or become fully integrated into the machine?