Grand Magus – The Hunt (2012) Nuclear Blast Records
Early this century… in the year 2001… Grand Magus served up a debut album so thick and frothy that gods licked their lips upon hearing it. Ten years after it was released… I heard it. And my EARS licked their lips! As I was listening to the the clear deep voice punch its way through meaty riffs and blazing solos, one of my ears shouted to the other: THIS IS ROCK N ROLL! To which the other replied: Yeah man.
The Hunt is their sixth LP. Gradually, throughout the course of those 11 years, Grand Magus seem to have shifted away from rockn bluesy licks to favour a more “epic” sound. Of all their albums, I hold their first in the highest regard. That being said, I put forward that “The Hunt” is an improvement over their previous album, “Hammer of the North” (2010).
Compared to Hammer of the North, the songs on The Hunt have more of a presence (to my ears at least). ‘Valhalla Rising’ is as catchy as colds are. Both ‘Silver Moon’ and the title track are solid as stone. The last track ‘Draksådd’ is a good example of bluesy and epic sounds coming together. And let’s not forget the epic two-part ‘Son of the Last Breath’ with its acoustic guitar/cello build-up to a climax featuring guest death metal vox from J. Hedlund (Unleashed). Epic ambience, varying dynamics, powerful melodies. Great stuff. Grand Magus always do well with the less-is-more approach: simple, memorable songs with a huge sound executed by a modest three-man unit. But Son of the Last Breath is not a product of less-is-more. It’s all in. And I like it. It leads nicely into the next song, Iron Hand, which is a more straightforward affair.
Overall the album holds together nicely. The Hunt has some grand-sounding songs, perhaps less bluesy than some of their past works, but still dancing between bluesy riffs and epic melodies. My mind keeps looking for criticisms but my ears offer only approval (and it’s them I have to listen to). Rock on Grand Magus!