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The Dear Hunter

Crossover Prog

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The Dear Hunter Act I: The Lake South, The River North album cover
4.06 | 345 ratings | 20 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Battesimo Del Fuoco (1:56)
2. The Lake South (1:43)
3. City Escape (5:56)
4. The Inquiry of Ms. Terri (5:56)
5. 1878 (7:02)
6. The Pimp and the Priest (6:00)
7. His Hands Matched His Tongue (6:00)
8. The River North (4:03)

Total Time 38:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Casey Crescenzo / vocals, guitar, bass, piano, organ, drum programming, percussion, producing & mixing
- Nick Crescenzo / drums

- Judy Crescenzo / backing vocals (3,4)
- Dan Nigro / vocals (5)
- Phil Crescenzo / organ (5)
- Tom Neeson / trumpet
- Andrew Borstein / trombone
- Ryan Muir / trumpet, French horn

Releases information

CD Triple Crown Records ‎- 03069-2 (2006, US)

LP Triple Crown Records ‎- 114666E (2014, US) New cover art

Thanks to darqdean for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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THE DEAR HUNTER Act I: The Lake South, The River North ratings distribution

(345 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE DEAR HUNTER Act I: The Lake South, The River North reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the first part of a supposed 6-CD concept, mainly the work of one man - Casey Crescenzo - who sings and plays most of the instruments here. Given that fact, this is a quite startling achievement featuring a dazzling array of styles. It's hard to believe that music of this quality is practically unknown.

The opening track is a capella, with harmonies that The Beach Boys would have been proud of. "The Lake South" is a short jazzy instrumental which takes us into "City Escape", which is where the Mars Volta comparisons begin, sounding similar to something from "Deloused in the Comatorium", but this band are no TMV rip-offs. Crescenzo begins to show his vocal talents here - he can hit the high notes and put the emotion into the lyrics. The drums, from Nick Crescenzo, are also excellent."1878" is the first real classic here. A complex and unusual drum pattern underpins a great melody, before it bursts into the chorus which is one of the those that immediately gets into your brain and makes you go "wow!". "The Pimp and the Priest" takes us into New Orleans jazz territory, sounding akin to something from Muscle of Love-era Alice Cooper, before "His Hands Matched His Tongue" hits us as the best track on the CD. This is a concept closer to match the "Listening to you" ending of Tommy or "Wind at my Back" from Snow. Starting off with gentle acoustic guitar, the vocal harmonies bring up the goose pimples before the dramatic and beautiful ending. Stunning stuff.

This CD is listed as an EP here - it clocks in at just under 40 minutes but the maxim of "quality not quantity" certainly applies here. Featuring two absolute corkers, this is superior to most band's 78 minute efforts. Along with Tinyfish, this band are the best "unknown" band I've come across. My only gripe is that the lyrics are very hard to read on the CD cover, so I'm not really sure what the concept is all about aside from "the story of a boy from his creation to his untimely end". Apart from that, I can only hope and pray that they deliver the rest of this concept as promised. Highly recommended!

Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars Casey, the mastermind of this project, left the indie/experimental/post-hardcore outfit The Receiving End of Sirens, who I hold in high regards as one of those bands that plays a style of music that I generally despise in such a way that it is actually good music (proof that all music has the capability of being high quality, some genres are just unfortunate to house few if any bands who want to do anything with that sound). I heard a few clips and I knew I was going to love this group. After hearing this album, my anticipation proved accurate and then some. What we have here is a similar melodic yet edgy approach to the vocals as The Receiving End of Sirens with more layers, harmonies and background work. Then the music is like a symphonic, dramatic rock opera that works in rhythms and ethereal soundscapes characteristic of bands like The Mars Volta and Circa Survive. It is a fantastic blend of styles. It's creative, intelligent and yet very accessible. The Dear Hunter is now a leading force in modern progressive music, and as soon as you have the chance, you should check them out.
Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the great discoveries here on the Archives so far. This is a band/project that deserves every possible mention, and loads of credit for that matter. I've never come across such a splendid example of crossover prog. In this EP (or album, which I prefer in this case) we're served an excellent mixture of modern indie/emo/alternative-rock and excellent emotional progressiveness and atmosphere than one has the right to expect from a release such as this.

Being mostly negative from the start ('bah, this isn't my type of music!'), I couldn't help falling in love with it. And even though I find it slightly unpolished, mostly due to some underdeveloped ideas, I'm sure we're in for some fantastic music in a near future.

Starting with the enchanting vocal harmonies of Battesimo del Fuoco where Casey Crescenzo gets his first chance to show both his talent and emotion when it comes to vocals, and the instrumental The Lake South, filled with varied instrumentation and expectations of greatness that holds promise of a great musical ride, you know that this is something extraordinary.

The sonic onslaught that follows is enough to leave me breathless. Melody, power and atmosphere from...ALL instruments makes it hard to pick a favourite from the bunch. Trademarks are soft, melodic interplay between guitar and keys with often fairly complex drums and a somewhat suppressed bass taking care of the rhythm. There are outbursts of forceful guitar and vocals as well, dotted with brass, to make the mix even more interesting.

Mandatory listen if you want to try out some modern prog, this is a shining star and a very promising start of a hopefully great discography!

//Linus W

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Act I: The Lake South, The River North" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Providence, Rhode Island based progressive rock act The Dear Hunter. The album was released through Triple Crown Records in September 2006. "Act I: The Lake South, The River North" is sometimes referred to as an EP and sometimes as an album. Featuring 8 tracks and a total playing time of 38:36 minutes, I have chosen to call the release an album in this review. The band was formed as a side-project by Casey Crescenzo, while he was still a member of The Receiving End of Sirens, but after he left that band in 2006, The Dear Hunter became his main project. "Act I: The Lake South, The River North" is a concept album and the first part of a planned six-album concept story. The overall story arc is of the birth, life, and sudden death of a boy known as "The Dear Hunter". On this release Casey Crescenzo handles all instruments and vocals, except the drums which are played by his brother Nick Crescenzo and a few other guest performances (including his mother Judy Crescenzo on backing vocals).

Stylistically the material on "Act I: The Lake South, The River North" is an atmospheric and alternative take on progressive rock. When the music is most loud and intense it sometimes reminds me of a less complex and chaotic sounding The Mars Volta (including the vocals), but most of the time the music is more subdued, melodic, and emotional in nature. The organic quality of the playing is one of the great assets of the album, and the songwriting is of a good quality too, which means the tracks are generally memorable, although it does take a few spins before they settle. In that regard "Act I: The Lake South, The River North" isnīt an instantly catchy release. It takes a bit more effort before you will be able to experience all the compositional details.

The album is a quality release on most parameters, but the vocals are a bit too emo/alternative rock styled to suit some of the songs. Crescenzo is arguably a skilled singer and he performs his vocals with both great passion and conviction, but he lacks that last bit of originality to his voice and delivery to push the music over the edge. As it is now "Act I: The Lake South, The River North" is a great release, and considering that itīs a debut release the quality is really high, but I still think the vocals and the melody lines could have been more interesting. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An impressive EP by a punk-rocker turned progger .!

What would your first reaction when you are told a band name that you never heard before by your prog friend? Obviously, you might ask "how the music sound like? Is it something like legendary prog bands, or modern prog like in the vein of progressive metal?". If none of that category pops up, you might start wondering: how would this new band would then be classified? That's exactly what happened to me because I was not informed at all on which vein the new band is coming from. I was only told that previously it's a punk band. What???? It struck me as I was there when punk and new wave killed prog rock at the end of 70s or beginning of 80s. And now I am hearing a new prog band which was originally a punk band? Give me a break!

So I started searching the net to order the CD and I found two albums whereby the first album was priced relatively cheap at amazon. Once the CD arrived home, I opened the jewel case and read the details about the album and found out that it's a bout a story of aboy from his creation to his untimely end, the beautifully rapturous, to the truly tragic. Oh .. what a compelling statement! So I spun the CD with a very high curiosity to know the kind of music this epic by The Dear Hunter is all about. Oh my God .. it blew me away at first spin with 100% acceptance level, indicating that this kind of music matches my blood category! Yeaaaahh ..!!!

The more I spin the CD it grows on me and, in fact, when I met my prog friends on an event we call it as ProgRing (progressive gathering) conducted yesterday, I played the CD of this album to the 15 people crowd of my prog friends. It impressed them at first spin as I experienced the first time. I then did some research on the net with the help of Dr. Google. I found out that the mastermind of this band, Casey Crescenzo, was previously a major contributing member of a punk band called as The Receiving End of Sirens (TREOS) whom during the recording of the album started to put some ideas for side project he called as THE DEAR HUNTER (what a name!). What previously regarded as side project was then became a primary focus for Casey.

Let's have a look the album in details .

"Battesimo Del Fuoco" (1:56) (as I learned, this is basically Italian "baptized by fire") opens the album brilliantly with a powerful aca pella led by Casey's voice in heavy and low register notes backed by beautiful choir. Practically, there is no other instrument being used and it creates great nuance for an intro of a great epic. "The Lake South" (1:43) resembles a music for an opera or a circus that depicts the opening of an act. The composition is basically using string plus brass section, while piano provides some magical notes bringing the music into great nuance.

"City Escape" (5:56) continues the music seamlessly with a blast of very energetic music in the vein of The Mars Volta combined with A.C.T kind of music. This track really makes my pulse running faster than the usual rate. It's so powerful and so dynamic. It flows brilliantly with many changing tempos and styles like accompanying certain act of the drama. At approximately minute 2:26 the music is turning down in spacey mood followed by blast of music with great vocal by Casey. What's so powerful is when the music enters approx minute 3:11 when it has different kind of style using percussion (tabla) with eastern style music augmented nicely by piano work. Oh my God .. this part is truly great! The entire track of "City Escape" is a masterpiece and it represents a true prog music of modern times!!!

"The Inquiry of Ms. Terri" (5:56) brings the music into a slower tempo with ambient style augmented brilliantly by bass guitar lines and wonderful vocal which in a way reminds me to the like of Radiohead. Oh yeah, the dragging vocal reminds me to Radiohead. But it finishes at minute 1:50 when the music blast off abrasively with aggressive vocal of Casey in the vein of The Mars Volta. Oh the vocal quality of Casey is top notch! "1878" (7:02) cools the music down through a steady acoustic guitar work at the intro part, even though as the music flows there are parts with toned up music. "The Pimp and The Priest" (6:00) uses trumpet like in jazz music but I consider this track is like the music in circus show. It confirms that the music of The Dear Hunter is an operatic. The composition is truly excellent as the melody flows smoothly the percussion at background augmented by brass section have made the music so solid as well as dynamic.

If "His Hands Matched His Tongue" (6:00) is played alone without being positioned in the whole epic, this does not sound interesting for my interest as it's too mellow at the beginning part. However, I still admit the power of Casey vocal has made this song. The guitar parts may sound boring, but not the overall music, especially when it's combined as a whole epic. "The River North" (4:03) is an ending with a minimum instruments usage but piano / keyboard.


Even though on track by track basis I do not quite favor track 7, I look this album as the whole epic which I think that this is a masterpiece epic that I have ever heard. It's beautifully composed, combining energy, drive, melodic notes and instruments virtuosities for those involved with the album. The music of The Dear Hunter can be considered as Operatic Progressive Rock; a new category that should be created, I believe. For sure, this is a concept EP. Overall rating is 4.75 of 5. Keep on proggin' .!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by horsewithteeth11
4 stars This is the first part of Casey Crescenzo's 6-part concept album about a boy named simply The Dear Hunter. However, the first part is an EP, not a full LP. Nevertheless, this is still a pretty sound recording.

This EP was recorded before Casey had formed a permanent core of musicians to create "The Dear Hunter's" music. But I highly doubt that discouraged him in any way, given the fact that he plays nearly all the instruments and does lead vocals. Except for some drums, organ, trumpet, and three backing vocalists (both the drummers and two of the vocalists are relatives of Casey's although I'm not sure which ones they are), this is pretty much a solo project by Casey under the name "The Dear Hunter". The music is still of a very high quality however. It is of course very eclectic in range, going from post-hardcore and experimental rock to progressive rock as well as folksy and acoustic passages. The production quality is of course of a very high quality. Casey did do some production work on the debut album for The Receiving End of Sirens so it's safe to assume that the production quality here is crisp and clear.

Normally I don't like giving EPs a 5 star rating, and unfortunately I won't be doing so with this one. I tend to enjoy this a bit more than Act II because the length isn't an issue here. I'll give this 4.5 stars, but round it down to 4. If you're looking to check this band out and are worried about the lengthy debut LP, start here. Recommended to...well, pretty much anyone who enjoys eclectic music with a bit of quirkiness.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Cinematic is how I would describe this music, and rightfully so- this is, after all, the first act in what is supposed to be a six part affair. Overall, this is a lovely and thoughtful work, almost serving as a wondrous prologue.

"Battesimo Del Fuoco" This two minute a cappella prelude, the title of which is Italian for "Baptism of Fire," has many layers of gorgeous vocals.

"The Lake South" Even shorter than the first track, this piece has trumpet and other brass instruments, and sounds like music straight from the beginning of a motion picture. You can almost picture the opening credits rolling.

"City Escape" The rock begins here, though, with crispy guitar and somewhat heavy drums. A disembodied female vocal bridges the convincing male verses, which are punctuated by hard-hitting chords. Ghostly piano breathes new life into the piece and ushers in an ethereal chorus of voices.

"The Inquiry of Ms. Terri" Laid back and yet somehow simultaneously very intense, this piece incorporates heavy and almost melodramatic sections with the graceful choir that is Judy Crescenzo, the mother of the mind behind this project. Bizarre noises take over at the end.

"1878" A softer piece, laced with rich acoustic guitar and fluttering drums, this song contains an extremely memorable melody in the refrain. Phil Crescenzo, the father of the composer, guests with a royal organ part that compliments the music but stands out to a great degree. This is a true highlight of the album.

"The Pimp and The Priest" A dark and fun cabaret-style song, this contains some of the harder elements of previous songs with a jaunty twist. It closes with another fantastic a cappella passage.

"His Hands Matched His Tongue" Clean, finger-picked guitar softens things up. As per an overall pattern of the album, a complex vocal section concludes the song.

"The River North" Quiet piano, which sounds like a vinyl record, begins the end of this EP. The static remains though the music is long gone, and finally people applause, and the scene closes like an orchestral concert.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 1/6, count next 2 (as of Sep-2009) reviews as connected with this one. Probably the least melodic from them all. But that's not fault of course, "Battesimo del Fuoco" (why I wanted to write Batessimo instead? Probably English language deformation) starts (and ends) a capella. And as soon as you get accustomed to singer's voice, you can enjoy wonderful harmony of his and backing vocals. I said similar thing in Blomljud review and there I used The Beach Boys connection. Well, here I use Moon Safari similarity. Story here is for sure important, but I'm able (bad thing for all foreigners) to understand it just barely. Maybe after some analysis I will read, or many listens, I will understand completely. "The Lake South" starts with something I though that is trumpet, but then another came and I'm confused. Maybe two trumpets, but one of them is in waltz rhythm, second normal 4/4. And piano. And haunting feeling (these mist surrounded American lakes).

"City Escape" is quite furious (almost got feelings of emo movement, you know, similar style of singing, not so often heard in prog and yeah, punk and emo styles are connected. Fortunately, this has potential, while emo has just melody, which, as fact, I foundd quite lacking of interest) and I suppose has interesting lyrics. Poetical, with more meanings, but I just can't get through to it. "The Inquiry Of Ms. Terri" reminds me certain parts of Bring Back Boston Rag by Steely Dan.It's quite calm song, but this Ms. again confuses me. About what lady this story is ? I feel like blind person watching a movie, at least I can hear. Oh, a change occurred. I can read again, I'm not blindfolded anymore. Let's use brain! 1- Oh, it's about first moments of His life, the birth, quite hard life I suppose, his mother either did something terrible, or just inconvenient in these times. I like this era, around start of 20th century, many legends still living, Wild West still functional (little bit), nature untamed and The Lake. 3-It's hard to recognize if it's ""Ms. Terri"", or ""mystery"" sung differently. Nah, too metaphorical for my amateur poetical skills. Is it about life of her mother before his birth, or things which leaded to her being pregnant (assuming that it's about birth). 4+ "The Inquiry..." so we continue. Wikipedia says ///Ms: (/ˈmɪz/ or /mɨz/) - for women who do not wish to state their marital status.///, so our lady is not so keen on idea of telling facts about her. That's maybe key fact to understanding the story. I hope that she's not girlfriend of The Dear Hunter, this would have fatal consequences on the story. Musically, it's amazingly structured song. How it's descend higher on the musical scale, same as story is ascending to final ecstasy of truth. Quite haunting story and definitely a good one.

"1878" is quite strange song. Similar melody as many songs from current times, but lyrics are suggesting, that things are still back in reality (I mean past). Not much matching the whole scheme here, sounds too cheap for me. "The Pimp and the Priest" is again return to old ways of this album. Radical change of styles and combination of songs I've never though that could be together. And again, my favourite waltz. Everyone who'll hear its rhythm will recognize it for sure, as it has different effects on different people. Since Sleeping inn Traffic part 2, I love it. Well, since times of Dance on Blue Danube. This is one of the best songs here and fully shows this prog thing about TDR. "His Hands Matched His Tongue" oh, just try to enjoy every instrument here, every single one of them can be clearly heard. "His Hands Matched His Tongue" oh, just try to enjoy every instrument here, every single one of them can be clearly heard. Two songs, one next to another, both exactly 6 minutes long ? Maybe just coincidence. And last 2-3 minutes can be understood as interpretation of sung lyrics. Last track is sad piano outro.

Masterpiece number one. Will second one prove its worth too ?

EDIT: 4(+), after some time, it loses many of these traits. What is left is, even interesting, bunch of not so consistent songs. There's graduation, third part have big possibility to reach 5-star status. And also gains some

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The beginning of a truly amazing rock opera (so far at least.)

I have and always will be a fan of rock operas. Don't know why I love them as much as I do, I just do. But when I stumbled across this band (don't even remember how that happened) and saw that he was planning a six-part rock opera all I could think was HECK YES! I immeadiately bought the first two (because those were the only two out at the time, review of Act II soon to follow) and was comletely blown away upon first listen.

The acapella intro really sets the mood for the birth and The Lake South serves as a great piano intro that builds up into City Escape. This part is about the boy (The Dear Hunter) being born and his prostitute mother (Ms. Terri) leaving the city after his birth. Then the Inquiry of Ms. Terri and 1878 explains how the boy is raised and both have a more pastoral feel than the other songs (rightfully so.) Then the mother's profession is revealed in The Pimp and the Priest (Yes, priest by day, pimp by night, go figure) somewhat cynical song, this one. In His Hands Matched His Tongue, Ms. Terri raises the boy through puberty (but somehow manages to keep her profession revealed from him) Then a piano outro sets up for the next act... The storyline is important to know because the album perfectly reflects it (a reason I love it) and it's a very interesting story.

Act 1 is probably the least exciting act but it's not the worst one musically by any means and the storyline is kept well (unlike some rock operas... AHEM*LAMB*AHEM.) But please check this out because the band does not recieve alot of the praise they deserve and it's a just plain great listen.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars This is an interesting indie prog album that like other similar bands like The Tea Party mix different sounds from different bands to come up with something that is pleasant but still obvious where the influences lie. THE DEAR HUNTER seems like it has serious influence from Muse, The Mars Volta and Pocupine Tree to me. This musical entity began as a side project of Casey Crescenzo who wanted a place to put all the musical ideas that didn't fit into his band The Receiving End Of Sirens. After he left the band it turned into a full time project. Casey plays all the instruments except he recruited Nick Crescenzo on drums and a few others for some other musical touches.

ACT I: THE LAKE SOUTH OF THE RIVER NORTH is the debut album and incorporates many different sounds and musical ideas centered around the concept of a story set at the dawn of the 20th century revolving around the birth, life and abrupt death of a boy known only as 'The Dear Hunter.' The idea was that the story was supposed to be a six-part album series of which three have been released so far. Not sure if the other three will see the light of day or not but this is a decent beginning.

This album contains everything from a cappella to full on rocking out and strange piano and symphonic segments. It all flows quite well from beginning to edge and although the influences are well out in the open it nevertheless doesn't diminish from the overall sound since they are all woven together quite seamlessly. The emphasis on this album is really on the strong melodies that are dark and haunting. Great debut that makes me want to check out the following releases.

Review by Warthur
3 stars The Dear Hunter do the indie prog thing with grandiose ambition on this first concept album, presented as the start of an extremely long rock opera. There's some Radioheadisms sprinkled here and there about the shop but to my ears they mostly remind me of an alternate take on the Decemberists, if you took out the folk influences and replaced them with classical - there's the same tendency towards whimsical cabaret, the same vocal playfulness, and the same hit and miss pattern when it comes to retaining my attention. It's competent stuff, and Casey Crescenzo and family clearly aren't short on talent, but they don't quite weave together their indie rock-prog blend tightly enough to save this from feeling patchy.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Originally, this album was designated as an EP and it was the first official release from The Dear Hunter. Now it is considered a full out album, even though it still only has a run time of 38 minutes. But, in the case of this album, it is 38 minutes of full on progressive music with more emotion and passion than most bands can conjure up in an hour.

The Dear Hunter is pretty much the music created by one person only and that is Casey Crescenzo with help from Neal Crescenzo on the drums. Casey was originally from a punk band who made the transition fully to progressive rock in a big way right from the outset. He also has some very big musical ideas. This album marks the starting point (or Act I as the album title says) of a six act rock opera. It is basically the life of one specific person from birth to death (and maybe beyond?). Currently, 5 acts of this rock opera have been released, each act taking up a full album. The albums after this debut album were much longer, as this Act deals with the birth and childhood of the protagonist. Other albums were released after the 3rd act as sort of an intermission. One of those projects was called the Color Spectrum where 4 songs were written for each color of the rainbow with the addition of white and black. That is an example of Casey's imagination and just how giant his ideas are.

This album definitely does not lack in creativity and amazing progressive-ness. Even though it's short, it packs quite a punch, and when you have finished listening to it, you swear you've heard an hour's worth of music. And it's all not because everything is packed so tightly either, the songs are given room to breathe and develop. It is so hard to believe this is a first effort because it is so well written and produced, just like he's been doing it all for years. The album starts out with 2 short songs as sort of a preface to the story, and is acapella style with some amazing harmonies and the 2nd is a short instrumental. After that, the next five tracks are 6 - 7 minutes each. Casey's voice is very powerful and dramatic which works quite well for the rock opera style. This is no hokey project, this is the real deal. With a voice as dramatic as Freddy Mercury from Queen and as powerful as Matt Bellamy from Muse, this guy has what it takes. In fact, the music here is everything you wish Muse would be, consistently prog heavy with all of the progressive traits that you love and very very little filler. Muse to me is too same-y sounding, where The Dear Hunter ventures off in so many directions and isn't afraid to experiment with dynamics and variety, and this ends up giving the sound something more akin to Dredg at their best, but with songs with better development.

Get this album and try it, at least check out some of the tracks. Most of you will be glad you did. Just be careful to search for The Dear Hunter because there is another non-prog band (more like indie-folk) out there called The Deerhunter. They're not bad but they are completely different from The Dear Hunter. I can't believe more people aren't familiar with this band and their amazing music. I would consider it among the best new era prog rock that is out there. It is music that should make prog-heads salivate for more, more, more. This quality of music can't deserve anything less that 5 stars and people need to get familiar with the band.

Review by Kempokid
4 stars When talking about The Dear Hunter, there's almost no way to avoid mentioning their 6 act concept album and the way Casey Crescenzo weaves his narrative through the music in a way that puts the 2 elements at a far closer level than say, Coheed and Cambria, who quite clearly prioritise writing a song before trying to incorporate story elements into it. To be fair, the approach that The Dear Hunter takes is one that could really easily fall completely flat, feeling more like sacrificing songwriting to attempt to hamfistedly tell a story, which ends up adding to this band's appeal even more once it becomes clear how successfully they managed to meld these. That's not to say that this album is perfect however, as this is a bit rough around the edges in certain respects and definitely feels like Casey was still finding his feet a bit with his songwriting at points. Despite this however, I find a lot of these rougher elements to be quite interesting in their own ways, especially the way that this incorporated considerably more post-hardcore and indie rock elements into its progressive rock sound compared to all of their other work , making it quite unique in the grand scheme of their discography.

The album starts off with an a capella that immediately establishes the dramatic nature of the album, along with Casey's absolutely excellent vocals, all in all, the track doesn't really do too much, but sets the tone of the album excellently regardless. The Lake South similarly serves the purpose of establishing the sound of the album, but this time the instrumental side of things, with lush orchestrations evoking vivid imagery with an almost showtune-esque vibe to it, which I personally like quite a bit, and the way it leads into the first proper track, City Escape is executed quite well. City Escape is the first proper song on the album, and definitely kicks things off with a bang, with a fast paced riff that's extremely reminiscent of The Mars Volta causing the intensity to rise dramatically. Even here it becomes quite clear how detailed a lot of these compositions are, with a lot of different elements working together to craft a really entertaining sound, with hints of piano and backing vocals further cementing the dramatic nature of the band. I also appreciate Casey's vocals here quite a lot, especially during the more climactic moments where he puts on a harsher vocal delivery. The Inquiry of Ms Terri takes things in a more subdued direction while also being far more dynamic overall, starting off quite pleasantly and building up to a bombastic chorus, slowly adding more elements until it all explodes with a distorted guitar riff and his harsher vocals once again. The song continues to escalate in such a way, with each time the chorus comes in being more intense than the last, with the rest of the song doing similarly.

While 1878 is the longest song here, it's also funnily enough the one that I feel has the least going on, with the main positive trait of it being the excellent, at points almost dreamy atmosphere, with the really gorgeous piano melodies in particular evoking some very vivid imagery. A bit of a shame that the song itself ends up being somewhat repetitive, because this one definitely had the potential to be a masterpiece. Pimp and the Priest is what I consider to be the best song here, doubling down on the orchestral side of things and bringing in the brass instruments as well to make for what's essentially the theme of the villain of this concept album series. There's a certain swagger to the song that I absolutely love, and the song is just all around so entertaining, sounding both extremely sinister, yet fun and lighthearted at the same time, can't express enough how much I love this song and the way that it embodies the band and all their theatrics. His Hands Matched His Tongue closes off the album remarkably well, starting off very softly with some acoustic guitar and a more melancholic tone, spending the majority of the length of the song just building up to an incredibly intense, climactic and emotionally charged end to the album.

While a bit rough around the edges with some minor things, notably occasionally carrying an idea for slightly too long, leading to a few sections that can feel a bit off, I still find this to be a remarkably crafted album that planted the seeds for the band's later, more well realised and refined albums. The way it so perfectly balances between narrative and music, with each component serving to elevate the other is truly impressive to me, and gives the album, and band as a whole quite a lot of charm. This is a great album and one that I'd heavily recommend to those who enjoy other modern prog bands that incorporate indie and alternative rock into their sound such as The Mars Volta or Coheed and Cambria in particular, and the band would almost only get better from here.

Best tracks: City Escape, The Pimp and the Priest

Weakest tracks: 1878

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