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The Dear Hunter - Act III: Life and Death CD (album) cover

ACT III: LIFE AND DEATH

The Dear Hunter

 

Crossover Prog

3.94 | 198 ratings

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TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars From the first word uttered in "Writing on a Wall", I knew that I was in for an experience with this album. In Cauda Venenum further raised my expectations, tossing catchy horns and driving drums in my face, before Casey Crescenzo's vocals popped in, screaming and propelling me forward. It was mayhem, and it was glorious. And yet, the band wastes no time letting the listener know that they are in for more than just a rocking ride. After the 4 minute mark, the song takes a sharp turn into more gentle music with backing vocals and light instrumentation in place of the propulsive music that started the song.

What It Means To Be Alone is sort of a slow track that doesn't grab the ear as well as the first couple of tracks, but it moves the story along nicely, and the music picks back up with The Tank. Truthfully, I can't always follow exactly what is supposed to be happening in the story, so songs like "The Tank" that are pretty straighforward make me feel smarter, and the smart military drumming and varied vocals combine with the piano and strings to make it a real smash hit.

The Poison Woman has an almost mischevious sound, aided by the pianos and Casey's singing. I really love the myriad of different emotions that Casey is able to convey with his voice, and the backing vocals that support him throughout this album. This song is one of the one that, story wise, I'm not entirely sure about. I get the basic idea, but I'm not really sure how it fits in with the songs before and after it. (Perhaps from The Tank to Mustard Gas, we are being introduced to the army that the main character is fighting along with? Although Mustard Gas, based on the song afterwards, could also be something that happens to the character.)

Speaking of Mustard Gas, this is a track that really rocks, on the same level as "The Tank" and even "In Cauda Venenum", although just like "In Cauda...", it also has a moment in the middle where the mood and tone shifts dramatically, which perhaps makes the return to the hard rocking main section sound even harder rocking. I love the lyrics too of the chorus, they are not the most original but their delivery works wonders.

"Scream to the sky, beg for a reason he would allow this Look to the sky and say, we would be better off without this, who would allow this?"

The album reveals a wry sense of dark humour in He Said He Had A Story, a story about an encounter between man and prostitute. It gets a little bit more upbeat and hilarious with "Go Get Your Gun", a catchy song that sounds like it has a generic theme until you listen a bit deeper and realise that it is actually a song about desperation, at which point the lyrics almost become a little sad.

Son/Father is perhaps the part of the album that confuses me the most, story wise. I am pretty sure I get what is happening, but it seems rather odd and comes out of nowhere. Musically, they are alright, although not quite on the same level as the rest of the album.

The album ends with Life and Death, which is actually the song I heard by this band first and the one that made me decide to buy this album. It starts off beautiful and sad, but also manages to be hopeful, and is in my mind an excellent way to close the album.

This is an album that is definitely served by owning the actual album. Instead of a booklet, it comes with an assortment of postcards for each song (minus the first, which is written on the digipack itself, perhaps as a pun on its name "Writing on a Wall"). This gives each song a visual companion, and the lyrics are printed on the back. It is definitely an interesting way to augment the story. The image for Mustard Gas is particularly chilling. The only downside is that the lyrics on the back of the postcards are wrong a fair amount (nothing major, but little things).

As a whole, this album is an excellent listen and I would recommend it to anyone who loves music that has a story attached and a myriad of different emotions, or great vocals and backing vocals.

TheGazzardian | 4/5 |

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